German taxman reported to buy new CD of data

German tax authorities have reportedly purchased a new CD containing client details of some one thousand German tax evaders with accounts at the Zurich branch of Coutts private bank

The Financial Times Deutschland reported on Saturday that tax authorities in North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany’s west had authorised the payment of €3.5 million (SFr4.21 million) for the CD. Coutts is a subsidiary of the Royal Bank of Scotland. The paper first reported existence of the CD in November last year.

But in an email response to questions from, Coutts’ head of corporate communications Susan Tether denied there had been a security breach at the bank.

“We are aware of the continued media speculation regarding a potential breach of client data secrecy at Coutts,” Tether said. “Following thorough investigation, we have no evidence to suggest any such breach has taken place. As we stated to media last year, we take the protection of client data extremely seriously.”

If confirmed, the purchase of the client data could jeopardise the future of the tax accord between Switzerland and Germany, the online edition of the newspaper said. The agreement, which has still to be ratified by the parliaments of both countries, would impose an income tax of between 21 and 41 per cent on German assets in Swiss banks.

Several CDs of stolen Swiss banking data have been handed over to German tax authorities in recent years. In 2010, German tax authorities reportedly recuperated €1.6 billion from tax evaders thanks to the purchase of stolen data.

In March, Swiss authorities issued arrest warrants for three German tax inspectors over the purchase in 2010 of a CD containing data on suspected tax cheats which was stolen from Credit Suisse.