The trial has begun in Bochum of one of Germany’s highest-profile suspected tax dodgers, former boss of Deutsche Post Klaus Zumwinkel.
He is accused of hiding millions in a Liechtenstein bank account over a 22-year period, and failing to pay tax on it. Protestors outside the court held up banners saying Zumwinkel had been making their post offices disappear, while he had disappeared with the money to the tax haven. When Zumwinkel was arrested last February it was live on television, and the case is spreading ever wider as more tax evaders are caught in the net. Germany has been sharing the data on its probe into tax evasion in Liechtenstein worldwide, leading to tax-evasion inquiries on three continents. Last month America reached a formal deal with Liechtenstein to share tax information to crack down on hidden American assets abroad. Zimwinkel is just the most public tip of the iceberg. One other person has been found guilty already and hit with a big fine and a suspended sentence, but the probe is reportedly investigating hundreds of German executives who have sought to cheat the taxman in this way.