The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has indicated her government may buy stolen information relating to secret Swiss bank accounts held by German nationals.
Although the information is expected to yield as much as 200m euro in recouped tax revenues, the move will do nothing to ameliorate the relationship between the neighboring countries, which remains fragile following a dispute last year over tax evasion.
The Swiss Finance Minister Hans-Rudolf Merz says Swiss authorities will not offer any help on tax matters involving stolen information. Swiss banks, already shaken from attacks on bank secrecy by the US, France and Germany, have cautioned the German government not to pay for such data.
James Nason, spokesman of the Swiss Bankers Association, says "We don't expect the German government to fence stolen goods and they certainly shouldn't accept stolen data nor pay for it."
Merkel has also faced criticism from within her own party over the legality of the move. However, finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has indicated it would be anomalous for the government to deviate from the decision it made two years ago when Germany purchased information on accounts held in Liechtenstein.
The move was criticized at the time as constituting an ‘attack' on the country by Crown Prince Alois, who rules the principality.
Since the Liechtenstein investigation came to light, the authorities have been increasingly offered secret bank data, ministry spokesman Michael Offer says.
Germany is expected to take a decision on the data shortly.
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