Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

IN THE PAPERS

'Caution, another Cast Lead lies ahead'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Rising into the ranks of Haute Couture

Read more

DEBATE

Gaza: How to Stop the Spiral? Israel Readies For Ground Offensive

Read more

DEBATE

Gaza: How to Stop the Spiral? Israel Readies For Ground Offensive (part 2)

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

A thin line between fact-checking and propaganda in Gaza social media coverage

Read more

#THE 51%

Sweden: A Feminist's Paradise?

Read more

FOCUS

Ireland's missing babies cast light on dark history

Read more

WEB NEWS

World Cup 2014: Germany-Brazil inspires the Web

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Boutros-Ghali: 'I wanted to reform the UN'

Read more

  • Video: Living in Tel Aviv, under threat of rocket attack

    Read more

  • Video: Palestinians fear full Israeli military offensive in Gaza

    Read more

  • Amazon snubs French free delivery ban with one-cent charge

    Read more

  • Manhunt as FIFA partner flees Rio hotel to avoid arrest

    Read more

  • US prepared to negotiate Gaza ceasefire, Obama says

    Read more

  • French companies will have to accept anonymous CVs

    Read more

  • Ukrainian forces close in on Donetsk

    Read more

  • Germany asks US intelligence station chief to leave country

    Read more

  • UN chief Ban Ki-moon appoints new Syria mediator

    Read more

  • Video: Muslims in China confront obstacles to Ramadan fasting

    Read more

  • Tour de France passes WWI Chemin des Dames battlefield

    Read more

  • Senegalese man awarded French visa in gay marriage debate

    Read more

  • Foiled French jihadist ‘targeted Louvre and Eiffel Tower’

    Read more

  • Obama in Texas to urge congressional action on child migrant crisis

    Read more

  • Iraq’s heritage 'in danger' from ISIS militants

    Read more

Europe

Germany and Switzerland on collision course over banking secrecy

©

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-02-01

Germany announced Monday that it may buy the names of suspected tax-dodgers from a Swiss whistle-blower, leaving the two countries on a collision course over Switzerland’s prized banking secrecy regulations.

AFP - Germany and Switzerland were on collision course on Monday over the Alpine state's cherished banking secrecy after Berlin said it might buy the names of suspected tax-dodgers from a whistle-blower.

Press reports said that an informer had offered Berlin the names of up to 1,500 Germans hiding their riches from the tax authorities in Switzerland for 2.5 million euros (3.5 million dollars).

Switzerland warned Germany that buying stolen information "violates public policy and the principle of good faith ... (and) constitutes a breach of the privacy of the clients concerned," refusing to cooperate if Berlin went ahead.

But with reports saying that the information would give Germany around 100 million euros in recovered taxes, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said "everything must be done to get hold of these data."

"Like every sensible person, I want to clamp down on tax evasion," Merkel told reporters in Berlin. "If these data are relevant we should aim to get hold of them."

The finance ministry said that Germany was considering following a 2008 "precedent" involving Liechtenstein, another Alpine country that has come under fire for its banking secrecy.

In that case, the German secret service handed over five million euros for the names of hundreds of German business executives, sports stars and entertainers allegedly hiding some four billion euros.

In the ensuing investigation, Germany clawed back some 180 million euros.

The scandal claimed the scalp of Deutsche Post chief Klaus Zumwinkel, who got a two-year suspended jail sentence and was fined close to one million euros after admitting hiding cash in the principality.

Germany handed other countries the names of some their nationals and the scandal put tax havens in the international firing line just as the financial crisis sparked new calls for transparency in the banking industry.

Switzerland and Liechtenstein have since moved to clean up their acts, agreeing to share more tax information with other countries. Both have since been removed from an OECD "grey list" of tax havens.

Swiss banking giant UBS last year agreed to hand over details of about 4,450 clients and US taxpayers, although last month a Swiss court upheld an appeal by one taxpayer against the transfer.

There are some voices in Germany, however, that are cautious about paying for the information and with a new government in power after elections late last year, it is not clear that Berlin would cough up again.

"Personally, I have a problem with it if one hands over money for something that has come into someone's possession in a legally questionable fashion," Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, a close Merkel ally, told the Swiss daily Neue Zuercher Zeitung.

Doubts emerged meanwhile about the identity of the whistle-blower.

The Financial Times Deutschland daily named him as Herve Falciani, a IT specialist formerly employed by British bank HSBC in Geneva, who passed on data to the French tax authorities.

"This is just a rumour," Falciani, 37, told AFP. "If they have any shred of proof, they should produce it.
 

Date created : 2010-02-01

  • ITALY

    Eighty billion euros 'come home' after tax amnesty

    Read more

  • SWITZERLAND

    Taxation deal with France suspended over whistleblower spat

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)