Germany steps up tax evader crackdown with Dubai data purchase
‘With the new set of data, we are illuminating dark corners in which tax offenders so far have holed up,’ Germany’s Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said in a statement.
The purchase comes ahead of Germany's September 26 national election in which Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (pictured), who is also the vice chancellor in the outgoing government, is the centre-left Social Democrats' candidate to succeed conservative Angela Merkel as Germany's leader [File: Axel Schmidt/Reuters]
Germany’s finance minister has ordered the purchase of data on Germans with assets in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, as part of efforts to combat tax evasion, following similar purchases by regional authorities of data from Switzerland in the past decade.
The Finance Ministry said the data on the CD was sent to regional financial authorities on Wednesday for them to examine and decide whether to launch proceedings against possible offenders.
“We are using all means to uncover tax offenses,” Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said in a statement. “With the new set of data, we are illuminating dark corners in which tax offenders so far have holed up.”
Negotiations with an anonymous informant were launched in January and the purchase for an undisclosed sum was made in February, though it was announced only now.
The purchase comes ahead of Germany’s September 26 national election in which Scholz, who is also the vice chancellor in the outgoing government, is the centre-left Social Democrats’ candidate to succeed conservative Angela Merkel as Germany’s leader. Although Scholz is widely respected, his party has not pulled out of a long-term poll slump.
One of the co-leaders of Scholz’s party, Norbert Walter-Borjans, bought several CDs containing data on Swiss banks’ clients when he was the finance minister of Germany’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, between 2010 and 2017. Switzerland expressed outrage at those moves.
Der Spiegel magazine first reported the purchase of a CD containing details of assets in Dubai such as tracts of land and real estate owned by German nationals.
It said an anonymous informant approached German officials and offered to pass on the data, for which the Federal Tax Office paid about 2 million euros ($2.42m), Spiegel said.
Tax authorities in Germany’s 16 states had in the past sought information from countries like Switzerland to unearth possible tax evasion by wealthy Germans.
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