Germany's Gabriel wants Swiss bankers who aid evasion in court

BERLIN Fri Mar 14, 2014 4:49am EDT

Bayern Munich President Uli Hoeness and his wife Susi leave by car following the verdict in his trial for tax evasion at the regional court in Munich March 13, 2014. REUTERS/Marc Mueller/Pool/Files

Bayern Munich President Uli Hoeness and his wife Susi leave by car following the verdict in his trial for tax evasion at the regional court in Munich March 13, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Marc Mueller/Pool/Files

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BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's center-left deputy chancellor hailed the jail sentence for tax evasion handed to Bayern Munich soccer boss Uli Hoeness and said the directors of Swiss banks that hide such funds should be hauled before the courts.

"I hope we will now reach a new level in the fight against tax evasion," Sigmar Gabriel of the Social Democrats (SPD) said in an interview published on Friday, when asked about Hoeness's 3-1/2-year jail term for evading 27.2 million euros in taxes.

"It has become a regular business model to move millions in profits from speculative business to Switzerland, where they are not taxed," Gabriel, who is also German economy minister, told the Passauer Neue Presse newspaper.

"We should therefore force the Swiss banks to disclose everything. It would be better still if some of the bank directors who aid and abet such huge tax evasion were to stand before the courts the same way," said Gabriel.

The SPD, coalition partners of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives since the end of last year, have long campaigned for a crackdown on German tax dodgers using Swiss bank accounts.

When it was in opposition in Merkel's previous term the SPD blocked a tax deal with Switzerland arguing that it did not go far enough as it would have protected the anonymity of German bank account holders.

(Reporting by Stephen Brown; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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