2 Feb 2010

Germany willing to buy list of tax cheats

8:15 am on 2 February 2010

The German government has indicated it's willing to pay for a stolen computer disk containing the names of up to 1500 Germans suspected of hiding money in Swiss bank accounts - if it's genuine.

The Financial Times Deutschland reported that the data was being offered by an IT specialist who once worked at HSBC in Geneva.

He is said to be asking $US3.5 million for the list of names. Some estimate it could net the German government $US100 million.

However, the Swiss finance ministry said it had refused to grant Germany any assistance in connection with the document, saying it was based on stolen information.

Two years ago, Germany paid $US7 million for a similar list of German citizens who had money in Liechtenstein, a country that was known as a tax haven. The information uncovered some high-profile names of tax-avoiders.

The BBC reports some German politicians are divided over whether to buy this new list. They argue it is wrong to deal in stolen goods. Others say it would be scandalous not to crack down on tax evaders.