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The purchase of CDs with stolen data about the Swiss bank accounts of suspected German tax cheats have yielded the state of North-Rhine Westphalia €500 million (SFr 600,700).

North-Rhine Westphalia’s finance minister, Norbert Walter-Borjans, told a committee of the state parliament on Tuesday that the CDs had so far proved the only effective way “to cast light on the darkness of the Swiss tax Eldorado”.

The money collected was made up of back payments and fines. Since the first CD was purchased in 2010, he said 6000 people had reported themselves.

The theft of the data continues to make waves between Germany and Switzerland. At the end of March the Swiss legal authorities issued arrest warrants for three German tax inspectors over the purchase of the CDs. They are suspected of “economic espionage”.

North Rhine-Westphalia paid an informant €2.5 million for the first CD, which contained about 1,500 names. The informant was convicted last December of violating bank secrecy laws and given a suspended prison sentence and fined SFr3,500.

On April 5 Switzerland and Germany agreed on a new tax agreement. However, it still has to be ratified by the parliaments of both countries.

Walter-Borjans said it was only because of the CD purchase that the two sides had discussed the tax deal at all. But he said it was still not good enough and should not be approved.

The German federal government does not have a majority in the chamber representing the German states. It therefore needs the support of the states with Social Democrat governments – like North Rhine-Westphalia – to get the deal through.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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