Report: German Officials Offered Data on Swiss Bank Accounts | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 19.03.2008
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Report: German Officials Offered Data on Swiss Bank Accounts

The daily Stuttgarter Zeitung reported that an unidentified person has offered to sell German officials data on more than 30,000 bank accounts held by Germans in Switzerland.

Swiss flag and Matterhorn mountain

Switzerland is not just home to majestic mountains

The Finance Ministry in the southwestern German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg has meanwhile confirmed the Stuttgarter Zeitung's report.

A ministry spokeswoman said that a state tax office had been offered information that supposedly provided details on tax fraud by people throughout Germany.

The spokeswoman cautioned, however, that it was unclear how significant the information actually was. "We're waiting for the informant to make contact again," she said.

There had been no discussion about payment or a possible delivery, she said.

The Stuttgarter Zeitung said estimates show that Germans may have stashed up to 170 billion euros ($260 billion) in Switzerland, which is considered by many to be a tax haven.

Liechtenstein scandal still fresh

Sign pointing the way to Vaduz, Liechtenstein

Germany and Liechtenstein have been tied up in a tax scandal since February

Germans have already been reeling from a tax scandal focusing on Liechtenstein. In February, it was revealed that hundreds of Germans had allegedly hidden away money there to avoid paying taxes in Germany.

The affair has spread to countries throughout Europe and as far away as Australia and New Zealand.

The revelations came about after an informant sold data to German secret services which detailed accounts at the LGT bank in Liechtenstein.

Meanwhile, the UK's Financial Times reported on Wednesday, March 19, that a second Liechtenstein bank that has been rocked by the theft of sensitive customer data said it believed German tax officials would not gain access to clandestine customer accounts there.

"We are convinced such a deal is not possible on legal grounds," the British newspaper quoted Josef Fehr, chief executive of the Liechtensteinische Landesbank (LLB), as saying.

The claim follows on the footsteps of reports that at least one of the four

people arrested in Germany for allegedly blackmailing the LLB was

trying to negotiate a milder sentence in exchange for information about

Germans holding secret accounts.

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