A row over tax evasion and stolen bank details is brewing between Germany and Switzerland after Berlin expressed an interest in acquiring the controversial data.
A whistleblower’s information on up to 1,500 possible tax evaders with accounts in Geneva could help Angela Merkel’s government to recover hundreds of millions of euros in avoided tax.
Chancellor Merkel justified her position over the data:
“Just like any reasonable person, I am in favour of punishing tax evasion. In order to do this, everything should be done to get hold of the data,” she said.
But it has all caused a bit of a stir in a country where memories of East German Stasi security police have made the public wary of any invasion of privacy. It has also angered Swiss bankers
Thomas Sutter of the Association of Swiss Bankers said: “We expect the Swiss government to exert its influence and tell the German government not to buy the bank data. We also expect the Swiss government not to give any administrative assistance if it receives requests regarding the stolen data.”
The story bears the same hallmarks as last year’s data scandal when an HSBC employee in Geneva handed over the details of 3,000 of the bank’s clients to the French authorities.
Herve Falciani worked in IT and stored the data on his laptop. There is much speculation that the same man, who said he acted out of idealism, is behind this latest breach of banking security.