The U.S. and Germany show no signs of relenting in their efforts to bring Swiss banks to heel. At the same time that the U.S. is requesting information from Credit Suisse, a German state has purchased another trove of stolen Swiss bank customer data.
Renewed U.S. request for information on suspected Credit Suisse customers
Only two weeks after Germany and France raided Credit Suisse offices and the homes of Credit Suisse customers in search of evidence of tax evasion, the U.S. has made a renewed request to Swiss tax authorities for information about Credit Suisse customers suspected of tax evasion in the U.S. The Swiss authorities rejected a previous U.S. request in April 2012 for failure to specify the names of the U.S. taxpayers about whom the U.S. was seeking information. According to the Financial Times, Credit Suisse has meanwhile confirmed that the Swiss tax authorities have asked the bank to provide information on certain U.S. customers. In all, fewer than 100 Credit Suisse customers should be affected by the request. The Financial Times reports that in all the U.S. is currently investigating a total of 11 Swiss banks on suspicion of assisting tax evasion by U.S. citizens.
German state continues buying stolen data of Swiss bank account holders
According to today’s releases in the German press, Germany’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia bought two more CDs containing stolen data on Swiss bank account holders. This time the CDs allegedly contain stolen data of the Swiss bank UBS AG and clients of another smaller Swiss bank. The CD with the stolen UBS data reportedly contains not only names and account information, but also information about trust structures used by German residents to evade taxes in Germany. In addition, the CD is said to contain training material for UBS’s employees on how to assist German residents in evading their taxes. An insider called the purchase of the CDs a “big hit” for the German tax authorities.
Switzerland is outraged about North Rhine-Westphalia’s most recent purchase of stolen data. Switzerland considers the purchase of stolen Swiss bank data as not only illegal but also in contravention of the tax evasion treaty that Germany and Switzerland signed in September 2011. The tax evasion treaty, which is subject to the approval of the upper house of the German parliament in Germany, is currently blocked by the Social Democrats. The most recent purchase of stolen data from Swiss banks by North Rhine-Westphalia, which is run by the Social Democrats, is considered to be a further attempt by the Social Democrats to attack the tax evasion treaty. This attempt may well be successful. According to the German press, many consider it likely that North Rhine-Westphalia’s actions could be the final blow to the highly controversial tax evasion treaty between Germany and Switzerland.