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German IT specialist gets three years for Swiss data theft

A German IT expert collaborating with German tax authorities has been sentenced to three years by a Swiss court in Bellinzona. He confessed to collecting and selling data on wealthy clients of a bank.

The Swiss court sentenced the man for selling client data from Swiss bank Julius Bär to the German tax authorities.

The 54-year-old German IT specialist who moved to Switzerland in 2005 confessed he'd filtered the data for German clients of the bank with more than 100,000 euros, Swiss francs, pounds sterling or US dollars and sent a sample of the information to an accomplice.

He handed over data on 2,700 German clients to be transferred to the German tax authorities and agreed on payment of 1.1 million euros ($1.5 million).

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The man said in court he had intended to use the bulk of the reward to pay off taxes he himself owed to Germany.

Judges ruled the man could serve half of his sentence on probation. Considering time already served, he may be released in as soon as six months.

Switzerland has come under growing international pressure to change its banking secrecy laws, which other governments say enable many wealthy bank account owners to avoid taxes.

Julius Bär agreed in 2011 to pay German tax authorities 50 million euros to close a tax investigation.

German opposition lawmakers last year struck down a deal aimed at allowing Swiss banks to levy taxes on German clients without revealing their identities.

hg/dr (Reuters, dpa)

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