Financial Regulatory Forum

German state ready to buy stolen bank data-source

By Reuters Staff
February 4, 2010

BERLIN, Feb 4 (Reuters) – Germany’s most populous state has made final checks on stolen bank data belonging to potential tax cheats and is ready to buy the information, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters on Thursday.

“We have finished the examination,” said a source from the financial authorities of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. “The groundwork has thus been laid to acquire the data.”

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble sent shivers through the large Swiss private banking industry this week when he said Berlin was prepared to pay for stolen data belonging to potential tax dodgers at a Swiss bank.

The data could lead to the state raking in greater sums of money in tax evasion than previously thought, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported on Thursday, citing authorities.

German media had reported that the data on up to 1,500 possible tax evaders could lead to 100 million euros ($139 million) for state coffers.

Germany had already paid for stolen data in 2008 when it purchased information stolen from Liechtenstein’s top bank LGT, forcing the tiny principality to give up bank secrecy rules.

In an interview with Reuters earlier this week, Schaeuble said it was the responsibility of individual German states to decide what to do with such data.

(Reporting by Klaus Lauer, Writing by Sarah Marsh; Editing by Kim Coghill) ((sarah.marsh@reuters.com; +49 30 2888 5226; RM: sarah.marsh.reuters.com@reuters.com)) ($1=.7202 Euro)

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