Uproar as Germany pays €2.5m for stolen Credit Suisse data
Files are set to expose 1,500 tax evaders – and intensify threat to traditional Swiss banking secrecy
Sunday 07 February 2010
Germany's government has unleashed a legal, political and diplomatic storm by paying an estimated €2.5m (£2.2m) for a CD of German depositors' data illegally taken from Credit Suisse's Zurich offices.
The CD's files indicate tax evasion by some 1,500 individuals amounting to €400m, the largest single case in modern German history. Estimates suggest 100,000 Germans have untaxed deposits of over €30bn in Swiss banks.
Andres Luther, a spokesman for Credit Suisse, insisted: "We have as yet no concrete indication that this data is sourced from us."
Credit Suisse documents quoted by the Süddeutsche Zeitung show that the bank, from 2004, wished to find more legal German clients because Germany had "made it more difficult to produce untaxed funds". Aggressive tax authorities and tough anti-terrorist laws, plus clients' willingness to spend rather than save, led to the changed strategy and the search for taxed deposits.
However, the CD – called by the newspaper "the top-earning CD ever" – contains a mass of historic and recent transaction data, and a picture emerges of rich Germans hiding untaxed fortunes in Switzerland over decades. Credit Suisse insisted last week that it has "neither the ability nor the duty to know its clients' tax position". But its internal documents showed tax-evading clients were advantageous as they require no marketing or advice. Contact with the bank was avoided rather than sought.
Tax evaders with Credit Suisse bank accounts face a tough choice. If their data is on the CD, they could face up to 10 years in jail unless they report their offence to the authorities.
The German Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, encouraged evaders to confess and defended the CD purchase because similar data was acquired from Liechtenstein by the German secret services and accepted as evidence by the courts. This resulted in the disgrace last year of the former chairman of Deutsche Post, Klaus Zumwinkel, who was given a two-year suspended sentence and ordered to pay a €1m fine for tax evasion. Legal authorities think he escaped lightly. The Liechtenstein data resulted in 200 German court cases.
- 1 JK Rowling horrified by Harry Potter actor Matthew Lewis's raunchy photoshoot
- 2 As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
- 3 The ten most unequal developed countries in the world
- 4 Saudi Arabia 'seeking to head United Nations Human Rights Council'
- 5 New Zealand 'the best country to work as a prostitute', says sex worker advocacy group
JK Rowling horrified by Harry Potter actor Matthew Lewis's raunchy photoshoot
Saudi Arabia 'seeking to head United Nations Human Rights Council'
The ten most unequal developed countries in the world
The biggest ranch in America, larger than the whole of London, has gone on sale for $725m
Melissa McCarthy's brilliant response to one sexist question posed to her on the red carpet by a male reporter
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Report finds that Britain's wages are the most unequal in Europe
Almost a third of school pupils believe 'Muslims are taking over our country', study claims
Labour leadership: Battle lines are drawn as members battle over party's ideology at first hustings of the contest
Gay marriage 'Bert and Ernie' cake bakery found guilty of discrimination in Northern Ireland
iJobs Money & Business
£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...
£45,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you looking for your next opportunity for ...
£45,000 - £55,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ACA/ACCA/ACMA qua...
£50,000 - £60,000: Laura Norton: Are you looking for an opportunity within a w...