German probe uncovers 200 million euros in tax evasion foundations

26th February 2008, Comments 0 comments

Bochuum prosecutors say employees at three German banks are involved.

Berlin -- Wealthy Germans have stashed away more than 200 million euros (300 million dollars) in foundations used to evade taxes, investigators said Tuesday in presenting an interim report into a probe linked to a Liechtenstein bank.

Prosecutors in the western city of Bochum, who are leading the probe, said employees at three domestic German banks were under investigation.

"Taxes have been evaded to an immense extent," a spokesman told journalists.

He said 72 people had come forward to make revised tax assessments and that the domestic revenue service had taken in an additional 27.8 million euros in unpaid taxes. German law allows tax evaders to "report themselves" and make revised assessments in return for milder penalties.

The figures were rising by the day, the spokesman said.

Search warrants had been issued in 120 cases, and the net had thus far drawn in around 150 suspects, of whom 91 had made admissions of guilt, he said.

Apart from the LGT bank in Liechtenstein, another foreign bank was involved, the spokesman said. He refused to provide further information for fear of jeopardizing the investigation.

The probe is based on data bought by the BND national intelligence services for a reported 4.2 million euros from a former LGT employee.

The spokesman said prosecutors were working on the assumption that their use of the information was in accordance with German law.

The Liechtenstein authorities have expressed outrage at the use of stolen information bought from a man who has a conviction in the Alpine principality.

The tax evasion scandal broke on Feb. 14, when prominent German businessman Klaus Zumwinkel was shown on national television being led from his house by prosecutors.

Zumwinkel resigned as head of the international logistics concern Deutsche Post the next day.

DPA with Expatica

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