Purchase Of Bank Data Disc Divides German States
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
The heated debate in Germany regarding the purchase of bank data discs
has intensified, as Baden-Württemberg and Bayern have become the next federal
states to be offered separate information on alleged tax evaders.
While Bayern’s Chief Minister Horst Seehofer has confirmed that he is
in favour of purchasing the disc, provided that the data can be obtained by
legal means, in Stuttgart, the Baden-Württemberg coalition government remains
Sharing Seehofer’s view, Baden-Württemberg’s Finance Minister
Willi Stächele is eager to purchase the data disc for EUR500,000. Thie disc was offered
recently to state tax investigators by an informant, and contains
the names of around 1,700 Germans believed to have evaded tax.
However, adamant that no deals should be concluded with crooks in order to
generate additional funds for state finances, Baden-Württemberg’s
Justice Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, Ulrich Goll, remains deeply sceptical,
and has announced his intention to oppose the purchase if it transpires that
the data has reached the finance ministry by illegal means.
Germany’s Police Union, DPolG, is also eager to purchase the disc. Referring
to the case of North Rhine-Westphalia, Federal Chairman Rainer Wendt explained
that the decision of general principle had already been taken. Both the federal
and state government had agreed to purchase the disc after careful legal examination
of the matter, he emphasized. Consequently, if some federal states opt to
protect tax evaders, while others choose to put them behind bars, this will send out a damaging signal, he continued.
Following discussions with the German government, North Rhine-Westphalian tax
investigators are to begin negotiations regarding the EUR2.5m purchase of a
stolen data disc, containing the names of around 1,500 Germans thought to hold
illegal bank accounts in Switzerland.
Despite the recent data disc revelations, Germany’s Finance Minister
Wolfgang Schäuble has insisted that Swiss-German relations
remain good, and that no diplomatic or political issues have arisen
as a result.