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Swiss hunt German tax men for 'spying'

The Local · 1 Apr 2012, 13:45

Published: 01 Apr 2012 13:45 GMT+02:00

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The tax inspectors, all from North Rhine-Westphalia, are wanted for “economic espionage,” Swiss prosecutors confirmed on Sunday.

Arrest warrants have been issued on the trio in the latest development in a long-running spat between the two countries.

“There’s concrete reason to suspect Germany of having given clear orders to spy on Credit Suisse information” Swiss prosecutor Michael Lauber told Swiss radio station DRS on Saturday.

German regional authorities, however, said the inspectors had done "their duty" by pursuing German tax evaders who were hiding money in Swiss bank accounts.

“The real criminals are not our tax inspectors, but those in Germany who exploit the conditions in Germany to accumulate massive profits then disappear into the dust and leave the payments to the honest tax payers,“ said North Rhine-Westphalia state Finance Minister Norbert Walter-Borjans on Saturday.

“The criminals also include those who have made assisting tax evasion their business model,” he added.

In 2010, the Düsseldorf prosecutor's office raided branches of Switzerland's second biggest bank in 13 German cities as part a probe of 1,100 clients and bank staff suspected of hiding funds from tax officials.

The raid came after officials in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia paid a reported €2.5 million for a computer disc containing information on wealthy Germans linked to the investigation.

Story continues below…

This weekend’s latest spat comes as a proposal to make German investors in Switzerland pay the same amount of tax as they do at home seems on the edge of collapse due to renewed resistance from the German opposition.

DPA/DADP/AFP/The Local/jlb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

16:16 April 1, 2012 by bugger
Under Swiss law, these people have committed a crime. Even if it would be no crime in Germany, they are criminals under Swiss law.

German laws are not valid in Switzerland, but Swiss law is.

German authorities will have to live with this.
17:39 April 1, 2012 by mos101392
@bugger, Chango Mutney,

You are both right...As an American living in Germany, I'm expected to obey German law and so the Germans need to remember the same goes in other countries.

My taxes are taken from my pay before I get paid! Why should I have to continue to pay taxes on money I've already paid taxes on.

History shows Germany forced other Germans to give up 90% of their wealth when they fled the country to escape the NAZIs and they were also forced to pay the next year's taxes before they fled.

I don't blame others for protecting their money from greedy tax invaders. It's no one else's business where I wish to park my money...under my mattress or in another country.
21:46 April 1, 2012 by The-ex-pat
It is a shame that Germany does not peruse child murders/rapists/pedophiles with such vigor as tax dodgers. Even the sentences are longer for skipping a tax payment.......
08:50 April 2, 2012 by lucksi
I'm ok with charging the tax people.

Not because I am anti-tax, but because they broke the law. Nevermind the espionage thing, but knowingly buying stolen goods is a crime here as well. Also, they pretty much called for people to steal the data, which is a crime as well.
09:33 April 2, 2012 by AlexR
Wait what? "German tax evaders"? This can't be true. It's a well known fact that the only tax evaders in the whole EU are the Greeks.

(or this is what two years of propaganda by Bild & Co made us believe)
10:43 April 2, 2012 by raandy
I have a problem with the buying of a stolen CD by the Government. I was always taught that two wrongs do not make one right. If an everyday citizen knowingly buys stolen property it is a crime.
12:04 April 2, 2012 by Prufrock2010
It appears that everyone commenting on this thread is just fine with the idea of paying more in taxes so that the oligarchs and plutocrats can evade their responsibilities by hiding their taxable profit income in another country. The fact that Swiss banks are wilfully complicit in these illegal schemes is of no moment. If the money is earned in Germany, it is taxable in Germany. After-tax revenues can be parked wherever the taxpayer chooses, but not pre-tax earnings.

Imagine how the Swiss tax authorities would react if it were discovered that wealthy Swiss industrialists were engaging in similar schemes to evade taxes by hiding their money in say...Luxembourg...or the Caymans. My guess is that they'd do everything in their power to recover those revenues and might even prosecute the tax evaders. I suspect that this phony bruhaha is just the Swiss government's way of expressing its embarrassment for having been exposed as complicit in a yet another tax fraud scheme. Still, I find it puzzling that the people on this thread are so willing to defend the tax cheats. Maybe you like paying higher taxes for fewer services because of the tax fraud of the wealthy few. I don't.
16:29 April 2, 2012 by raandy
Prufrock2010 Where have you been?, This is the first post from you in quite a while.
20:17 April 2, 2012 by siba
... what, Switzerland is the only democratic country... cannot believe what I read here. Switzerland takes all the money it gets, if of dead jews after WW II, dictators, criminals...

Switzerland - btw quite a xenophobic country today - plays a false game - as it always just thinks of its own profit not caring of the rest of the world.

AND: the more people bring their money to switzerland and other tax havens the less money will be there in Germany, France and the rest of Europe... as a result there will be less money for infrastructure and welfare OR more likely, the other Europeans have to pay MORE taxes to safe their standard of living.
23:25 April 2, 2012 by Prufrock2010
@raandy -- I haven't left the continent. Just decided to take a sabbatical from all the toxic craziness on these threads for a year or so. I notice it's only gotten worse.
07:49 April 3, 2012 by raandy
Indeed it has and remained a hate fest fueled by personnel insults and ignorance.

Hopefully you will bring some of your wit back to the forum.
10:27 April 3, 2012 by Prufrock2010
I'll check in from time to time just to "get my fair share of abuse," as Jagger said.
10:50 April 4, 2012 by LecteurX
Yes, Prufrock2010, you're right, the comments here are so ridiculously idiotic that I'm coming here much less often too.
00:51 April 12, 2012 by youngian
These actions undermine trust in Swiss banking security and a good thing to. Swiss banking is essentially an industry subsidised by Europeans that pay their taxes.
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