October 18, 2010 / 3:39 PM / in 9 years

Germany pays 1.5 mln euros for Julius Baer data

* CD contains 200 sets of data-Muenster prosecutor’s office

* Baer will not comment

* Switzerland seeking to tie up key tax deal with Germany

FRANKFURT/ZURICH, Oct 18 (Reuters) - German prosecutors paid around 1.5 million euros ($2.1 million) for client data from Swiss bank Julius Baer BAER.VX, part of its two-pronged campaign to clamp down on untaxed German wealth held in Switzerland.

A spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office in the German city of Muenster said on Monday the state of North Rhine Westphalia had bought a CD containing 200 sets of data.

The purchase happened earlier this summer and the proceeds had been donated to a charity, the spokeswoman said.

Baer spokesman Martin Somogyi would not comment.

Germany, along with Italy, the United States and France, has been one of the most fervent critics of Switzerland’s banking secrecy laws and has paid in the past for stolen data from Swiss banks in order to catch tax cheats. The pressure has already prompted Switzerland to relax its cherished bank secrecy and comply with international disclosure standards.

Germany and Switzerland are also seeking to finalise a deal by the end of October that will clarify tax disclosure rules for Switzerland’s multi-trillion-dollar wealth management industry. [ID:nLDE69F0BP]

The aim is to resolve the problem of an estimated 200 billion euros of untaxed German wealth hidden in Switzerland.

In July, German prosecutors raided every Credit Suisse CSGN.VX office in Germany after an analysis of a compact disc with names of 1,500 alleged tax dodgers obtained by tax authorities. [ID:nLDE66F1HT]

A bitter dispute between the U.S. tax authorities and UBS UBSN.VX damaged the Swiss industry’s reputation and forced the banking giant to agree to hand over the names of about 4,450 clients to Washington.

In 2008, Germany paid for data stolen from Liechtenstein’s top bank LGT. Former Deutsche Post chief Klaus Zumwinkel’s Liechtenstein trust was uncovered in that data. He received a suspended jail sentence after admitting tax evasion.

Since the Credit Suisse client CD fell into the hands of tax authorities in Germany, more than 10,000 people have confessed to evading taxes to state authorities, German media have said.

Under German law, those who report undeclared income themselves and pay back tax plus interest owed before an investigation is started are exempt from prosecution. (Reporting by Anneli Palmen in Duesseldorf and Jason Rhodes in Zurich; Writing by Edward Taylor; Editing by Andrew Callus) ($1 = 0.7193 euro)

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