Revenue to seek Swiss bank data
Published 09/02/2010 | 05:00
IRISH officials will ask their German counterparts for details of any local tax dodgers listed on a CD containing tax-sensitive data which Germany is buying from an informant for €2.5m.
Germany sent shivers through the Swiss private banking industry when it paid for stolen data belonging to potential tax cheats at a Swiss bank, raising the bar in the fight against tax evasion.
Now, the Irish Government is joining the Dutch, Belgian and Austrian governments by flagging interest in obtaining a copy of the compact disc.
Germany believes it may recoup €400m.
"In similar circumstances in the past, we asked the German authorities if they would provide us with any information relating to Irish tax evaders. They agreed to our request," said a Revenue Commissioner spokesman.
"We will adopt the same approach on this occasion."
Like Germany, Ireland is also prepared to pay for information about tax evaders, the spokesman said.
"However, our experience is that the people who report instances of tax evasion to us do so, almost always, because they find the behaviour offensive.
They provide us with what we call 'good citizen reports' for the highest motives, involving no personal gain at all," he added. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said last weekend that it was important for Germany to buy data, even if it was stolen, because the present economic problems have created an atmosphere where the public demands fair tax collection.
"In view of growing social tensions caused by globalisation, the financial market crisis and the ludicrous bonus payments on the one hand, along with growing unemployment on the other, it would be completely unbearable if the State didn't do everything possible to ensure taxes were collected fairly," Mr Schaeuble said.
German news reports said the authorities had acquired data on 1,500 German clients of a Swiss bank. The stolen data is reported to be rich in detail about tax evaders and could yield at least €400m in tax revenues.
Swiss Interior Minister Didier Burkhalter said last week that his country wanted to seek a solution to the data spat "to ensure a stable relationship with Germany", the country's main trading partner and the harshest critic of Swiss bank secrecy laws.
Nearly $6 trillion of wealth is managed in Switzerland, with almost one-third of it undeclared, analysts have said. Bankers say the latest set of attacks could undermine the country's entire private banking model.