You just can't rely on those Swiss bankers any more. There was a time when the wealthy and well connected could open up anonymous numbered bank accounts in Zürich and Geneva, deposit huge sums of money, and no one would ask any questions. You can't do that any more. These days Swiss bankers want to see your passport, 10 years of utility bills, and the contents of your handbag. Even if you manage to open up a dodgy account, an employee in the bank might appropriate your details and sell them to the tax authorities back home.
The tax authorities in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia have recently bought a CD from Switzerland containing juicy financial details of over 1,000 wealthy Germans. According to the Financial Times, the Germans paid €3.5 million for financial records held in the Zürich branch of Coutts, a subsidiary of our very own and dearly beloved Royal Bank of Scotland. Presumably, the tax inspectors are hoping for a bumper return on their investment by squeezing those naughty German tax evaders who hid their money in Switzerland.
The intriguing question is how did the seller get hold of the original CD. Heaven forbid, could it be that the CD was stolen? That would imply that the German tax authorities were handling stolen goods.
Yes, this is a tacky and immoral tale. The German authorities tax their citizens to the limit. However the wealthiest can sneak off to a neighbouring country and hide their cash there. A British bank provides all the operational infrastructure for German tax evasion. The bank promises to maintain the financial confidentiality of its clients. An employee of the bank downloads the data onto a CD. But the motivation for this theft is not outrage at tax evasion. It is an opportunity to make a quick million by selling it to tax authorities, who have no problem benefiting from a criminal act.
No one is innocent, all are tainted. It is just another typical story of modern life in Europe.