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Banking secrecy Swiss intelligence services ignored spying laws

A picture of the building housing the FIS

The FIS collected largely worthless information in the investigation, managed the spy badly and disobeyed the law, the report says.

(Keystone)

A parliamentary oversight body says the Federal Intelligence Service (FIS) ignored regulations and badly managed a Swiss man they employed to spy on German tax authorities.

The spy agent, known as “Daniel M.”, was arrested and sentenced last November by a German court for spying on German tax officials in a case that also raised questions about the role of the FISexternal link.

In a report published on Monday, the Parliamentary Control Committeeexternal link accused the FIS of having broken the law, which prohibits the gathering of data abroad in this case. "Active information gathering abroad should not have been permitted," it stated. 

The FIS collected largely worthless information in the investigation, managed the spy badly and disobeyed the law, the report said.

+ More on the history of the spy case

The tax officials’ personal details obtained by Daniel M. were already available to the FIS without additional intelligence collection. In addition, he shared the data illegally with several German residents who became co-defendants in the case. This is how the files ended up with the German prosecution, who finally arrested him.

The committee recommends that in future the FIS must ensure on a case-by-case basis if the use of an intelligence source has the necessary legal basis. It also says the Federal Council should only approve the use of spies if it can be expected that valuable and useful information can be gained by such an operation. Lastly, it recommended that the defence ministry should ensure that the head of the FIS continually assesses and monitors any ongoing intelligence operation.

SDA-ATS/swissinfo.ch/ln

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