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Germany

German tax authorities recover 1.6 billion euros from secret accounts

Germany's hunt for tax evaders has proven lucrative, and there's no plan to stop. According to a new report, the taxman has recovered 1.6 billion euros from secret accounts in Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

The shadow of the German eagle atop euro bills

German authorities have cracked down on tax evaders

German tax authorities have recovered 1.6 billion euros ($2.1 billion) in revenue this year from citizens who had stashed money in secret accounts in Liechtenstein and Switzerland, according to the upcoming issue of weekly news magazine Der Spiegel.

Authorities said they also hoped to seize 200 million euros next year thanks to secret banking data purchased from disgruntled bank employees.

Authorities also believe that the crackdown will inspire a new honesty among taxpayers, increasing revenues.

In 2008, a former employee of Liechtenstein's biggest bank sold data on the accounts of German citizens in the secretive Alpine banking haven to the German secret service for a relatively cheap 5 million euros.

The affair triggered a high-profile crackdown on tax evasion in Germany, prompting investigations into business executives, sports stars and entertainers. It also resulted in the conviction of former Deutsche Post head Klaus Zumwinkel, who admitted to hiding some of his assets in Liechtenstein.

Early this year officials in the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia paid a reported 2.5 million euros for a disc containing information on secret Swiss accounts.

Authorities raided Credit Suisse branches in Germany as part of a tax evasion probe in July, sparking tension with Switzerland, which said the data was stolen in violation of its banking secrecy law.

In November, Germany's Constitutional Court approved the use of stolen data to track down tax evaders.

Author: David Levitz (AFP, dpa)

Editor: Martin Kuebler

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