Germany has indicated that it is likely to buy stolen data on 1,500 possible tax evaders with money hidden in Swiss bank accounts.
A spokesman for the German finance ministry said on Monday that the government would “do everything it can to stop tax evasion”.
He said the authorities were currently seeking to clarify legal issues surrounding the case.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel also said that Germany should do everything possible to obtain data on tax cheats.
The German finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, telephoned his Swiss counterpart, Hans-Rudolf Merz on Monday to inform him officially that authorities in one of the German states had been offered the chance to buy bank client data – news that had been carried widely in the media on Sunday.
He told Merz that the government was deciding whether to take up the offer, a press release from the Swiss finance ministry reported.
The two ministers noted that Germany and Switzerland had different legal positions in such cases. Merz said the use of stolen data “constitutes a breach of the privacy of the clients concerned”, and that purchase of such data is forbidden under Swiss law.
He added that Switzerland would not provide any administrative assistance on the basis of stolen data, but was ready to increase tax cooperation with Germany based on a revised double taxation agreement.
In another twist to the tale, Hervé Falciani, the former employee of the HSBC bank in Geneva who passed stolen data to the French tax authorities at the end of last year, denied a report in Monday’s edition of the Financial Times Deutschland implicating him in this latest tax data affair.
swissinfo.ch and agencies