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German state warns it is buying Swiss account details

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German state warns it is buying Swiss account details

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A one-year-old tax agreement between Germany and Switzerland is coming under pressure, from critics who say it is too lax, and also from German states keen to get their hands on tax dodging Germans who have salted their cash away in Switzerland.

One, North Rhine-Westphalia, has taken to buying CDs with stolen account holder names on them.

Still unratified, the law forces Swiss banks to pay a flat fee on assumed past tax dodging, and start tax returns for new deposits.

“We in the SPD want people who have a lot of black money in Switzerland to pay taxes on that money,” said the SPD’s Carsten Schneider.

The Federal Government has been defending the agreement, but does not want states buying CDs of stolen personal details on the black market. The states say that while the law is unratified, they have little choice.

“We are absolutely convinced about the tax deal, and we stick by its terms. It will lead to more fairness, and bring in more revenue than previous attempts to deal with German tax evasion in Switzerland,” said government spokesman Steffen Seibert.

The deal allows the tax dodgers to retain anonymity if they pay up, while the CDs reveal their identities, something the German government fears raises ethical issues.