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Swiss banker arrested for 'selling German data'

The Local · 27 Aug 2012, 11:26

Published: 27 Aug 2012 11:26 GMT+02:00

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The bank in question, Julius Bär, is said to have warned German clients who could be affected.

German state authorities have sparked controversy in the past for paying for stolen data on tax dodgers hiding money in Swiss banks.

Monday’s Süddeutsche Zeitung reported that four public prosecutors in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) were planning a new wave of investigations into alleged tax evaders later this year.

These will be based on three CDs of stolen data and a comprehensive list of German customers who have invested their money in four financial institutions in Switzerland.

NRW State Premier Hannelore Kraft said earlier this month the state would continue to buy such data as and when possible, as she was convinced it was legal.

In October 2010, the NRW paid €1.4 million for a CD with data from Julius Bär on Germans who were allegedly hiding untaxed assets. The data sparked numerous investigations and voluntary disclosures.

Zurich banking insiders say Swiss banks have tightened their controls lately because of the repeated purchase of stolen data. The new measures are designed to expose data thieves and discourage further theft of customer information.

The bank did not comment on the nature and extent of customer data sold to German buyers. The thief was discovered "in the context of tighter controls and a comprehensive internal investigation," Julius Bär chief Boris Collardi told the Swiss Sonntags-Zeitung newspaper.

The suspect was arrested at his office in Zurich and has since been fired, bank spokesman Jan Vonder Mühll confirmed.

The row between Germany and Switzerland escalated earlier this month when German papers reported that tax authorities were investigating Julius Bär as well as the Swiss banking giant UBS, on suspicion of transferring German clients' assets to Asia.

The report prompted German Social Democrat Sigmar Gabriel to equate Swiss banks with organized crime syndicates for evading taxes

Story continues below…

Switzerland's President Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf dismissed the charges, saying there was no evidence of banks engaging in the practice.

The Local/DPA/sh

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

13:20 August 27, 2012 by MrNosey
"Swiss banker arrested for selling German data"

No, he (allegedly) sold data to Germans. The data wasn't German.
14:48 August 27, 2012 by zeddriver
The government has no right to break the law then turn to me and say I must go to jail if I break a law. They should lead by example. Oh! wait. That explains why so many don't care about the laws. The government has no qualms about breaking them so why should the citizens care about the rule of law. And talk about a smug kiss my bottom attitude. The German government brags to the people about obtaining the STOLEN customer data CD's with their tax money.

If this guy did steal the data. Then I hope he spends a lot of time in jail.
15:40 August 27, 2012 by raandy
Buying stolen anything when you know it is stolen is a criminal act, and selling it is also.

Excellent, maybe the next would be seller will think twice about it.

It is little wonder people are dubious about anything the government says or does.
16:13 August 27, 2012 by mos101392
That's great news! If you break the law you should be punished. I hope this sends a messege to all would be thieves. Maybe the Swiss should pay someone for banking info on all the top german politicians including Merkel.

I have a german acct and I hear Obama is pushing to force countries to give info on their us customers. I guess i'll have to bury it since you can no longer trust banks to keep your info confidential. Next the doctors then the priests will be selling my private information.
16:20 August 27, 2012 by freechoice
Germany should give him asylum by asking for repatriation from Switzerland. And give him a medal for helping to recover stolen taxpayers dollars.
16:28 August 27, 2012 by raandy

I did not get the sense from the article that tax dollars were stolen, only that money held in swiss banks was not reported for tax purposes.
16:39 August 27, 2012 by truth is treason
Well if the Government wants to "live by the sword then they will die by the sword" . The German people should ask for bank works to release high profile Government people bank records and compare it to their tax records. Release all politicians expenses and we see how they lived. You will be surprise at the lack of tax payment paid by politicians or what they are given to live on. A bounty should be place on the politicians information and make it public
20:00 August 27, 2012 by cheeba
What is never clear in these cases where the German authorities pay for stolen bank data is it just a list of German account holders or people who are known to not report and pay taxes on income from these accounts.

If it is the latter, then I would think a German citizen who has a Swiss bank account and pays all proper German taxes on the interest would have a strong case against authorities who willfully purchase their stolen private bank data and any German authorities who colluded with criminals to obtain the data should also be prosecuted and imprisoned.
21:46 August 27, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
The use of this stolen data was upheld by the courts in Germany. This to me points to the fact that the German judicial system is not as independent of political pressure as it should be. Flashbacks to the rise of the third reich are taking place in my eyes. Far too much state power in Germany messing with the freedoms of individuals. The fact the German state is now imposing this status quo on the rest of the EU is alarming. Everywhere I look and read I see Banks and the German government combining in all sorts of ways to dominate us both financially and legally. Seems like democracy is dying in Germany in front of our eyes and this time Europe is being taken over even quicker than a certain Mr. A. H managed to.
21:57 August 27, 2012 by mos101392
For a country that is overly concerned about privacy, (ie no Google street views), they sure don't give a damn about the privacy of one's personal bank account.

If it is found and proven that even one name on those CDs was not a german citizen or that even one german citizen paid his taxes then the individuals behind buying stolen information should be prosecuted.

I'm sure if I walked in a German bank demanding the teller fill my rucksack with everything in her cash drawer, I assume I would be prosecuted for theft.

So why aren't these perps involved with buying stolen property being prosecuted?
23:31 August 27, 2012 by cheeba
It seems impossible that the names of those who cheat could be segregated out from those German citizens who paid their taxes. The bank in Switzerland would literally have to have access to the depositors German income tax forms to know whether they paid or not. We know the Swiss banks do not have such access.
05:55 August 28, 2012 by parografik
Cheeba, your argument seems to me the most valid, in that innocent people are scrutinized along with the guilty, and that is what might be wrong with getting this information. As for the Tax evaders, my understanding of that is that it smuggling money to Switzerland is theft, so for them I have little sympathy if they fall under suspicion for just cause.
06:55 August 28, 2012 by TheWonderer
You all attack the Government but neglect one vital point:

In a fair legal system, the state is bound by law to prosecute any crime he gets to know of - without any ifs and buts.

So when the Government gets to know about data that may help them to solve a multitude of crimes (here: tax-fraught), they must try to acquire it - if all fails even by paying for it.

It would ridicule the system if those with the money get away by justifying their crime or it's non-prosecution by illegal acquisition of proof... Hey, who committed the crime?

As a citizen, I expect my Government to chase those bastards who believe to be over the law - we ALL have to pay taxes, everybody by his means. If they do not want to - fine, but then thay shall emigrate and not use the German benefits either.

It they live here, work here and earn here, the majority of our people expects them to pay here, too.

Nobody minds them to be rich. Nobody minds them to generate money by their wealth. They are just expected to pay tax on the profits, that's all.

07:05 August 28, 2012 by mos101392
As an American who has lived in Germany 25+ yrs, I have got the impression that the average German thinks they are the champions of justice. However this Is far from from the truth. Sometimes an outside entity has to correct them as in the Nuremburg trials for example. With no outside influence, the powers that be think they can wield their powers with no immunity.

If they want transperency, then the records of all German and the prosecuters who are buying stolen property should also be transperent.
08:29 August 28, 2012 by wood artist
I'd love to see what sort of "notification" people received.

Dear Sir. I has come to our attention that the fact that you are evading paying your taxes by hiding your money in accounts in our back might have been revealed to your own government. While we regret this event, we think you should probably start considering various legal defenses, since it seems likely the German government will expect you to pay what you owed...and quite possibly interest and penalties also.


You friendly hide-the-money banker

08:45 August 28, 2012 by freechoice
anybody who benefited economically from the system and do not share theequal social responsibilities of the society should be prosecuted to the full extent of the German laws.
11:05 August 28, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
Some of you are missing the point. Tax evaders should be chased and prosecuted. Correct. However, the government/state does not have the right to infringe on my privacy or to steal data it is not entitled to in order to achieve this objective. The state should chase these tax evaders by whatever LEGAL means it has at it's disposal. When a government considers itself above the law then we have a problem such as the one that developed in Europe during the 1930s.
11:44 August 28, 2012 by TheWonderer
I am not missing the point at all.

Paying a bank-clerk a little reward is not different to paying informers in the local underworld or paying undercover-cops.

The state is neither committing a crime nor does he make anybody commit a crime - the Government just makes use of information made available to them.

Following your argument, we should stop fighting drugs immediately - after all, most of the evidence acquired would be illegal due to your logic...

It is ridiculous that criminals who cheat the state can turn around and claim to be protected by the state... After all, THEY did wrong..

12:13 August 28, 2012 by raandy

If that is true then we should start with the Reichstag.
12:15 August 28, 2012 by cheeba
Anyone who thinks the German authorities are paying "little rewards" to bank clerks is naive in my opinion.

First of all the German government bribes created the demand in the first place for these thefts. two wrongs do not make a right. as Mrs. Thatcher used to say "crime is crime is crime". In my view crimes committed by governments are actually worse than those committed by individuals, the governments presume to committ their crimes in all of our names forcing all citizens to be unwilling collaborators.

If Ms. Kraft is so sure her actions are " legal" let her travel to Zurich, present herself at the prosecutors office and explain her tortured reasoning, then we can see if she is released to return to Dusseldorf or remanded for trial. I doubt she would dare.

As for the "little rewards", they are always in the millions of euros. I doubt the little bank clerks see much of that money. far more likely the lions share is kept by the Russian or Kosovar mafias that control these rackets. The millions Kraft is giving them are probably being reinvested in their other "businesses" such as arms smuggling and trafficking in human organs.
12:17 August 28, 2012 by Eastard
The German Government is paying for information as it would from any informant... I am not aware of the government providing assistance or guidance in the gathering of any banking information... This is somewhat simple... The rules of Germany are to report monies help in foreign countries and pay the associated taxes... like it or not. The Swiss simply agree to provide sovereign protection in both their government and banking standards.. There is absolutely no other attraction to their system... When it fails to do so, and those deliberately using it for the specific purpose of tax evasion get caught... it will always be loud cry of foul play... Those with accounts who report it have nothing to fear... The information is not being made public to my knowledge. Have they actually found even one account being reported...?
13:43 August 28, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
If I went to Switzerland and got private data illegally I should and would be prosecuted. Below a few examples of the Rule of Law and why it is necessary for everyone including governments to obey the Rule of Law. Don't forget, the German government is always preaching about the Rule of Law to Russia.

No branch of government is above the law, and no public official may act arbitrarily or unilaterally outside the law. The term "Rule of Law" means rule according to a higher law. No written law may be enforced by the government unless it conforms with certain unwritten, universal principles of fairness, morality, and justice that transcend human legal systems.

When a government official acts pursuant to an express provision of a written law, he acts within the rule of law. But when a government official acts without the imprimatur of any law, he or she does so by the sheer force of personal will and power.

The rule of law also requires the government to exercise its authority under the law. This requirement is sometimes explained with the phrase "no one is above the law."
16:04 August 28, 2012 by zeddriver
@Berlin fuer alles

Well said.

The banking laws in Switzerland forbid (It's illegal) the disclosure of ANY personal information except when authorized by a search warrant. Which must go through due process in a court to ascertain whether there is probable cause to issue said warrant.

As to the weak theory of paying an informant. An informant actually witnesses the act of someone doing something illegal then tells the police. The person in this case had no idea that any of the people on the disc did anything illegal. And further more if one pays their taxes. There is nothing illegal about using a Swiss bank. The person that supplied the disc did in fact break Swiss laws. And the Germans did not go through due process.
16:16 August 28, 2012 by cheeba
I cannot agree with the sweeping generalization that there is no reason for a German to use the Swiss banking system other than to avoid taxes.

People trust Swiss banks because they are right next door and provide the highest quality in the world in the financial services business. people believe their money is safe there. Many sleep better at night knowing their hard earned money is denominated in Swiss Franks andd not in Euros, a currency they never wanted and still don't trust.

The Swiss also are the best at making watches, do you hold up to suspicion everyone you see wearing a Swiss watch?
18:02 August 28, 2012 by zeddriver
And you can bet your last Franc that this bank employee did not hand over this data for altruistic reasons either. The Germans paid him to break Swiss law. And are therefore law breakers themselves. Even if the bank employee handed over the disc for free. It's doubtful such evidence could be used in court. Any defense attorney could easily challenge illegally obtained evidence and have the case thrown out or that evidence excluded.
18:24 August 28, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
The German state of North Rhine-Westphalia will continue to buy data on people suspected of stashing assets in Swiss banks to avoid taxes, the state premier was quoted as saying on Sunday. http://www.thelocal.de/national/20120820-44455.html

Refer to my opinion of this in post #9
20:35 August 28, 2012 by zeddriver
@Berlin fuer alles

Lets hope that the legality of such "evidence" would be challenged and pushed up to the supreme court of Germany. In America the supreme court cannot of it's own accord take on the constitutionality of a lower court decision. In effect. The lower court decision can't be challenged until a person/case that is effected by the lower courts decision challenges it.
20:54 August 28, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
I agree zed but the thing that worries me is that this goverment in Germany is messing around with a lot of constitutional affairs. I am not sure about the independence of the Judiciary for instance. Why else would the highest legal authority as the Local says in the previous article say that

"Purchasing such data is legal. That has been decided by the highest legal authority. Therefore we will continue to buy such data," Hannelore Kraft told mass circulation Bild in an article to appear in Monday's edition.
22:33 August 28, 2012 by zeddriver
@Berlin fuer alles

It's sad when we always exclaim how free we are. Yet we willingly give up more of our freedoms to the government. Then we act surprised when they take more than they said they would. And then tramp on the constitution with reckless abandon.

It's the same in the USA.

I'm reminded of some Pink Floyd lyrics from welcome to the machine.

What did you dream? It's alright we told you what to dream.
00:16 September 11, 2012 by stonewall jack
Pictet & Cie. Bank ­ list of crimes.

1996 --- Breach in London.

2003 --- FSA --- States rogues operating in Pictet¦#39;s ­London

Office . Ivan Pictet said documents were forgeries but

were lated proved to be genuine. Had documents held

in London office destroyed. (hoping to hide crimes.)

2007 --- Japan. ---- The Securities and Exchange Surveillance

issued a recommendation that the Prime Minister and

The Commissioner of the FSA to take disciplinary

action against Pictet Asset Management. Japan Ltd.

2008 --- Dec. ---Pictet Bank state --- ¦quot; we have never chosen

any funds linked to Madoff.¦quot;

2011 --- Madoff Trustees sue Pictet & Cie. For $156 Million.

2011--- Bank at centre of Bribery and money laundering case.

Being sued for $350 million. ( In U.S.A.)

2012.--- April.-- Geneva Bank Pictet used in Offshore Tax

Scheme U.S. Authority states.

2012.--- July.-- De- Spiegel -- States-- Pictet Bank uses a

letterbox company in Panama and a tax loophole

involving investments in London to gain German

millionaires as clients.

Pictet & Cie Bank ­Partners ­(1996-2012 )- guilty.

Peters &Peters ­ Partners.- (1999---2012 )- guilty.

The bank and it¦#39;s officials/lawyers deliberately withheld crucial documents requested under a High Court order. The bank and it¦#39;s officials/lawyers deliberately withheld evidence from the Police, and one of it¦#39;s account managers Susan Broadhead gave a false witness statement .

Another one of it¦#39;s managers Nicholas Campiche ( Now Head of Pictet ­ Alternative Investments.) concocted a letter pretending to be a client and closed his account. The senior partner (Ivan Pictet.) sought to have numerous documents destroyed,along with those copies held in their London office¦#39;s of Pictet Asset Management. Initially stating that they were forgeries then their lawyers Peters & Peters ­ Monty Raphael .Q.C.­and the barrister Charles Flint.Q.C. later had to admit in Court that the documents were genuine.

British Parliament. Hansard .29th March 2007.

Barry Sheerman .M.P.-quote.

---------¦quot; Constituents of mine have lost £2 million through fraud. The fraudster used Pictet & Cie - - a French Bank - - and Pictet Asset Management to back the fraud being perpetrated.¦quot;¦quot;
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