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Former Deutsche Post Boss Moves to Castle After Tax Evasion Scandal

DPA news agency (sms)February 17, 2009

Authorities aren't troubled that former Deutsche Post boss Klaus Zumwinkel, on a suspended jail sentence for tax evasion of almost 1 million euros ($1.3 million), has moved to live in a refurbished Italian castle.

Boats in a Lake Garda harbor
Zumwinkel's villa looks out over Italy's Lake GardaImage: dpa zb

A spokesman of the court in the western German city of Bochum confirmed Monday, Feb. 16 that Klaus Zumwinkel, 65, did not violate his parole conditions by moving to Italy. A change of residence within the European Union was not a problem for the courts, he said.

The former top executive has to comply with parole conditions for three years under the terms of the sentence imposed on him in late January, which included a two-year suspended prison term as well as a fine of 1 million euros.

He has already paid 23.9 million euros in late tax, interests and fees in a case that made him one of Germany's most prominent business leaders to be disgraced in court as well as the public eye.

After his trial, in which he admitted keeping earnings and dividends hidden from the German tax authorities in a Liechtenstein fund, he had said he planned to work as an entrepreneur and investor.

Should I stay or should I go?

Zumwinkel has left some lucrative positions but is keeping othersImage: AP

He also said he planned to keep non-paid positions with the Post Foundation and the Institute for the Study of Labour, a research organization that is also run by Deutsche Post.

Zumwinkel had been briefly detained in February 2008 after prosecutors obtained evidence from Germany's BND foreign intelligence service on trusts managed by the LTG Bank in Liechtenstein on behalf of wealthy tax-shy Europeans.

The charges against him related to 970,000 euros in undeclared taxes between 2002 and 2007. Because of a missed deadline, he escaped being charged for a larger sum, which could have resulted in him going to prison.

Released on bail after a search of his villa, Zumwinkel resigned shortly afterwards as head of Deutsche Post, one of the world's leading logistics companies with a global workforce of more than 500,000.

Later, he stepped down from positions on the boards of other leading companies such as Deutsche Telekom, Lufthansa and retail and travel concern Arcandor.

Zumwinkel was one of hundreds of wealthy Germans exposed when a Liechtenstein bank executive betrayed them by selling a DVD with details of their accounts to the BND for about 5 million euros.

Since then, German prosecutors have recovered more than 150 million euros in arrears from repentant taxpayers hoping to ward off trials.