Germany mulls rise in fines limit for top earners

29th February 2008, Comments 0 comments

Germany plans to drastically raise the upper limits of income-related fines imposed in the criminal courts.

Berlin -- Germany plans to drastically raise the upper limits of income-related fines imposed in the criminal courts, so that top earners feel the sting like the low paid do, Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries said Friday.

Her proposals come amid anger in Germany over misdeeds by senior executives and a chorus of public comment that business leaders may have lost their moral sense.

Since the 1970s, Germany's criminal justice system has not fixed fines in euros, but in the notional amount that each defendant could earn in a day. A light fine would for example be three day units, and a stern fine would be 60 day units or two months' income.

Currently the maximum allowed by law is 5,000 euros (7,500 dollars) for 360 days, or 1.8 million euros. Defendants have to show their tax returns so that the fine amount can be fixed.

Zypries, a Social Democrat, called in a news interview for the limit to be quadrupled to 7.2 million euros. Several Christian Democratic Union (CDU) supporters of Chancellor Angela Merkel later said they would be support an upward review of fines.

Germans have voiced anger at senior executives awarding themselves rapid pay rises while crimping rises for workers.

The outrage was heightened with the resignation two weeks ago of Klaus Zumwinkel, 64, former chief executive of Deutsche Post, after police raided his home. He was accused of setting up a trust abroad to evade taxes.

Last year a former Volkswagen chief human resources officer, Peter Hartz, was fined and given a suspended jail term for bribing labor leaders. Business misdeeds are closely reported in Germany.

DPA with Expatica

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