German state prosecutors are investigating 57 foreign banks for tax evasion using information obtained from self-declared tax evaders. According to the media, the voluntary disclosures provide very valuable information and became a favorite method of tax prosecutors to track down the evasions.
Prosecutors in Germany's most populous state are investigating 57 foreign banks on charges of abetting tax evasion. The banks include those from countries such as Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria and Luxembourg.
The banks were brought to the investigators' attention as German citizens were offering voluntary declarations of their foreign bank accounts over the past six years - concentrating in particular on banks mentioned repeatedly. The voluntary declarations has become German prosecutors' new favorite method of tracking down tax evaders.
In 10 cases the German authorities have already set the fines that together amount to a total of around €120m. A spokesman for Austria-based Akte Walser Privatbank, which received a fine of €5.4m said that the bank changed the way it deals with foreign customers radically in 2009, adding that "the requirements for the identification of customers and the transparency about the origin of the means are very strict."
Last week, the tax authorities of North Rhine state were also pursuing major multinational financial institutions, including J.P. Morgan, Barclays and HSBC, on suspicion of "devious stock trading," which allowed them to avoid some €10 billion of tax over several years.
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