Greece has been given copies of stolen Swiss bank data by the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia as an act of solidarity in tracking down tax cheats. Some 10,000 records of Greeks with Swiss bank accounts have been handed to Greece’s finance ministry.
“This is an important step for the Greek government to secure more tax compliance in the country,” North Rhine-Westphalia finance minister Norbert Walter-Borjans said in a statement on Wednesday. “We in North Rhine-Westphalia will support them in their endeavours.”
The German state has netted more than €600 million (CHF650 million) in fines and penalties since it bought the bank data from a whistleblower. More than 100,000 citizens had also been spooked into admitting tax evasion as a result of the information, Walter-Borjans said in September.
Having fined several Swiss banks and recovered such a haul of unpaid taxes, Walter-Borjans now wants to extend his largesse to Greece.
The information handed over by his office contains records of some CHF4 billion ($3.9 billion) held in Swiss banks by Greek citizens and companies. “This is a great opportunity for our community,” said deputy Greek finance minister Trifon Alexiadis.
Alexiadis added that the information might be used to ask for administrative assistance from Bern. However, this might prove awkward at the moment since Switzerland has yet to pass new laws that allow helping other countries recover untaxed assets using stolen data.
In summer, Switzerland said it was ready to cooperate with a proposed Greek tax amnesty by arranging support from Swiss banks. Estimates of how much Greek black money is held in Swiss banks varies wildly from $2 billion to $200 billion.
swissinfo.ch and agencies