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Minister condemns buying tax evader CDs

The Local · 16 Jul 2012, 10:11

Published: 16 Jul 2012 10:11 GMT+02:00

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North Rhine-Westphalia state’s purchase of the CD - for €3.5 million has caused friction between Schäuble and his NRW counterpart Norbert Walter-Borjans.

Walter-Borjans believes buying such CDs is legitimate, even if they have been illegally acquired. The CD is believed to contain the data of around 1,000 Germans with Swiss-based assets at the private British bank Coutts.

But there is concern that such purchases could endanger a hard-won agreement between the German and Swiss governments to uncover and tax money that Germans have hidden in Swiss bank accounts.

"Random CD-purchases can only ever be a crutch - they cannot offer a thorough approach to satisfactory tax collection," Schäuble told Bild newspaper at the weekend.

"We are working towards a sustainable, credible, and long-term solution to the problem of the inadequate taxing of German taxpayers with assets in Switzerland."

Schäuble signed a tax agreement with Switzerland in September 2011, though it is yet to be approved by the upper house of the German parliament, the Bundesrat. Several states, including NRW, have threatened to block the measure in the Bundesrat.

"The agreement signed with the Swiss authorities includes a good solution for the past, with a significant lump sum payment of arrears, and for the future, with complete equality as regards fortunes kept in Germany, as well as a thorough, systematic, controlling powers on the German side," said Schäuble. "That's why we want the agreement ratified, because it will achieve all that and restore the legal peace."

But Walter-Borjans is not so happy. "In its current form, the tax agreement offers tax evaders barn-door-sized loopholes," he told Bild. "We can't agree to it as it is."

"The cases of tax evasion of German customers through Swiss banks, which have been reported in the media recently, show how big tax fraud still is," he added. "A whole of series of banks obviously offer help with tax evasion as part of their business model."

For that reason, he argued, the state was justified in purchasing CDs to investigate tax crimes.

The finance ministry has not commented on whether Schäuble's work will be affected by the collapse of his younger brother who had a heart attack last week and was put into an artificial coma. Thomas Schäuble, who runs the Rothaus brewery, collapsed while going for a walk.

Story continues below…

The 63-year-old served various ministerial roles in the Baden-Württemberg cabinet between 1991 and 2004.

The Local/bk

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

12:01 July 16, 2012 by William Thirteen
as an investment this means at least an additional €3,500 of tax revenue for each of those 1,000 individuals must be collected just to break even. Assuming there are man hours spent analyzing the data and preparing cases against the individuals the required break even amount climbs even higher. Now add in lawyer's fees and court costs. I can see why Wolfgang Schäuble considers this a poor investment. It would be interesting to see how it all pans out financially in the end.
12:15 July 16, 2012 by SynJyn Tweer
Stolen or illegibly obtained information cannot be used as a basis for court proceedings or have I got this wrong.
17:52 July 16, 2012 by zeddriver

Welcome to the new socialist authoritarian world order. Even in the once free USA it has come to this all to often. Ted Kennedy said some years ago. "The mere seriousness of the allegations warrants an investigation" Think about that. All one has to say to the authorities is that guy over there is a (insert the egregious crime of your choice). It matters not one wit if there is any evidence. So. It's only a small leap for the authorities to just forget that the evidence they have is illegal. After all. The end justifies the means. Even if it cost more than the crime originally took.
20:02 July 16, 2012 by cheeba
Where does this end? Why not buy stolen gold bars for resale? They can make more money that way.
21:36 July 16, 2012 by NEUEVILLA
Yet another law which applies to everyone except Germany.
11:16 July 21, 2012 by mos101392
It used to be normal to think your bank will keep your assets private. I hope that the country for which the bank employee also stole for profit is brought to justice. What if there was only one account that did not evade taxes, but the individual still profited?

If it is illegal to purchase stolen property, is it also not illegal in this matter? It simply boils down to the German greed.

If the Germans didn't try to tax their people to death, they probably would not try to hide their money. It's a classic case of physics!

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