Global media is drawing attention to secret bank accounts in Switzerland after a number of rich and famous people were associated with holding such accounts to bypass taxes. In 2015, HSBC leaked information allegedly linking David Bowie, Phil Collins and Tina Turner to such action. Now governments are getting involved.
Last Friday, German officials arrested a 54-year-old Swiss man, identified as Daniel M., on suspicion of spying to learn how the German government detects German tax evaders through Swiss bank accounts, Reuters wrote.
“The scandal reaches new proportions when spies sign up informers in the finance administration, in order to spy on successful NRW tax investigators and play into the hands of people who make billions in profit at the expense of society,” said NRW Finance Minister Norbert Walter-Borjans. “It’s hard to believe that such a spy thriller took place not on the screen but on our own doorstep.”
Germany is accused of paying millions of euros for 11 CDs with information about secret bank accounts in Switzerland owned by Germans, millions in losses the German tax system. 5 million euros were allegedly paid for one CD, said German media in 2015.
Daniel M. was allegedly helped by a former German police officer. The activity was inside North Rhine-Westphalia’s finance ministry, and allegedly started in 2012.
“When someone in Switzerland uses illegal methods in Switzerland to steal state or business secrets – that is espionage, and we have the task to fight that,” FIS director Markus Seiler said at a briefing in Bern.
He didn’t comment on the event.