Germans paying for tax evasion

Scott Jagow Feb 19, 2008
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Germans paying for tax evasion

Scott Jagow Feb 19, 2008
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TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Scott Jagow: In Germany, the taxman is banging on people’s doors. Well, maybe knocking them down. Today, there were more raids on the homes and offices of wealthy Germans. As many as 900 people are suspected of evading taxes. They were apparently using dubious foundations set up by a bank in Liechtenstein.

We’re joined by reporter Brett Neely in Berlin. Brett, how did all of this come to light?

Brett Neely: Well, it seems like someone who was possibly an employee at this bank in Lichenstein, the LGT bank, stole a DVD full of sensitive customer information and sold it to Germany’s intelligence services for what’s reportedly about 5 million euros.

Jagow: Why would the intelligence service pay for this information?

Neely: There’s been a big problem with tax evasion in Germany. It’s kind of a sport in some ways. And Lichenstein is one of the favorite places for wealthy Germans to stick their money. The German government’s been trying to find ways to collect on these taxes for years, but they can’t get through Lichenstein’s bank secrecy laws. So when this data was put up on the market, it was irresistible.

Jagow: How is Lichenstein responding to this?

Neely: They’re pretty upset. They are already trying to figure out who stole the information, and, you know, are also potentially even threatening sanctions against any of the, you know, prosecutors who use this information if they ever were to visit Lichenstein.

Jagow: And what about people in Germany? How do they feel about these people being exposed?

Neely: You know, the mood here is really vengeful, I think is the best way to say it. You read all the papers and it’s really, you know, who are these guys? What do they think they’re trying to do? You know, these are fat cats who have been laying off people in factories, and now they’re just cutting and running and sticking their money in a bank in Lichenstein. And the funny thing is, too, is that like I said, tax evasion’s kind of a sport in Germany. Everyone hires a tax advisor, everyone finds their ways to cut their taxes down close to the bone. Just, you know, most people don’t load their car full of cash and drive to Lichenstein.

Jagow: All right. Brett Neely in Germany. Thank you.

Neely: No problem.

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