DUESSELDORF, Germany, Sept 14 The state of
North-Rhine Westphalia has helped Germany recover more than 3
billion euros ($3.9 billion) from German tax evaders after
buying compact discs with details of Swiss bank accounts,
according to the region's finance ministry.
The existence of the Swiss accounts has caused an uproar in
Germany, where North Rhine Westphalia, the nation's most
populous state, has so far bought CDs containing data on German
clients of Credit Suisse and Julius Baer.
Clients of a Swiss unit of Merrill Lynch are also affected,
financial sources said on Friday. Merrill Lynch was not
immediately available for comment.
The state has paid around 10.3 million euros for six CDs
since 2010, a spokeswoman for the region's finance ministry said
Germany has promised to stop buying leaked bank data naming
suspected tax cheats if a tax deal with Switzerland comes into
Switzerland and Germany struck a deal in April to levy taxes
on the assets that Germans have stashed in Swiss accounts to
avoid the taxman but the opposition Social Democrats (SPD)
party, which controls North Rhine-Westphalia, has said it will
block the plan in the upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat,
where the governing centre-right coalition has no majority.
Germans hold an estimated 150 billion euros in Swiss
Banking secrecy is key to Switzerland's $2 trillion offshore
wealth management industry. It has refused an automatic exchange
of information on account holders and is pursuing instead the
strategy of a withholding tax to preserve secrecy.
($1 = 0.7606 euros)
(Reporting by Matthias Inverardi; additional reporting by