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.
- 2 Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
- 3 General Election 2015: 14-year-old boy asks Nick Clegg – 'can you kill Katie Hopkins?'
- 4 University student in court for allegedly covering housemates' food in window cleaner and spit
- 5 Ryan Gosling posts tribute to 'Ryan Gosling Won't Eat His Cereal' creator Ryan McHenry
Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
Who should I vote for? The Independent quiz matches best political party for undecided voters ahead of the general election
Mysterious 'X-Files' sounds heard miles above the Earth
Garland shooting: Isis claims attack on Prophet Mohamed cartoon contest in Texas as its first action on US soil
Met Gala 2015: Beyoncé manages to out-skimp Rihanna, Miley and Kim Kardashian combined with near-naked ensemble
In defence of liberal democracy
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
iJobs Money & Business
£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Can you speak German,...
£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity f...
£215 per day: Ashdown Group: Junior Project Manager (website, web application ...
£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software Engineer / Softw...