July 16, 2012

Illicit Tax-Cheat CDs May Endanger Swiss-German Treaty


Shortly before going on vacation, Norbert Walter-Borjans once again took care of a matter concerning no small sum of money -- in this case, an additional €1 billion ($1.2 billion) for the cash-strapped bank WestLB, which is partly owned by the western German state of North-Rhine Westphalia. The money boosts the state's total budget to €58.8 billion.

Though large, such sums are all in a day's work for the finance minister of Germany's most populous state. In comparison, a payment authorization recently submitted for his signature seems quite modest. In this case, the payment in question was €3.5 million in exchange for what the source promised would be something the minister had gladly purchased a number of times in the past: a CD containing data on German tax evaders.

The minister signed the form. It wasn't his first purchase of such a CD, nor is it likely to be the last, as state investigators are currently weighing whether to buy two more such data packets, both containing information on Swiss bank accounts. Indeed, when he returns from vacation, Walter-Borjans may well be signing his name on another payment authorization worth several million euros.

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