Bulgaria Seeks to Cash in on Swiss-German Bank Data Spat

Crime | February 14, 2010, Sunday // 14:14
Bulgaria: Bulgaria Seeks to Cash in on Swiss-German Bank Data Spat A file photo shows the exterior view of the building of the HSBC Bank at the quai Wilson in Geneva, Switzerland. A disk said to contain the names of more than one thousand Germans evading the taxman by parking funds in Switzerland. Photo by EPA/BGNES

Bulgaria has approached Germany, following the latter's intent to buy a stolen disc containing names of thousands of people with Swiss accounts who may have evaded taxation.

“Should Germany provide us with the necessary data, Bulgaria's National Revenues Agency will start checks and revisions for evasion of the Bulgarian taxation,” the agency head Krassimir Stefanov announced on Sunday.

The agency will also seek the assistance of the prosecutor's office in a bid to bring to justice those who have been involved in cross-border tax cheats worth particularly huge amounts of money.

“It is time for Bulgaria to show it is part of the European Union and each and everyone, who does not pay his taxes, will not get away and will be punished,” Stefanov said.

Meanwhile Switzerland voiced concerns about Germany's intent to buy a stolen disc containing names of 1,500 people with Swiss accounts who may have evaded German taxation.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said at the beginning of February that Germany was prepared to pay EUR 2.5 M for the disc.

The German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg has been offered a second disc containing 2,000 names, which according to German daily newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau includes information from bank groups UBS and Credit Suisse.

The tax data affair has soured relations between Germany and its Alpine neighbor, which sees the purchasing of the disc as another attack on its cherished banking secrecy.

"Here we have a new form of bank robbery," Swiss lawmaker Pirmin Bischof told Germany's Deutschlandfunk radio earlier this month. "Before, you had to go to the bank and get hold of the money with a weapon. Today you can do it electronically by stealing data."

But Schaeuble has said that the government would be legally justified in buying the stolen data. Chancellor Angela Merkel is also in favor of acquiring the CD.

In a similar case in 2007 the German government handed over as much as EUR 5 M for stolen tax data from Liechtenstein.

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Tags: Switzerland, Germany, taxation
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