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Exclusive: Massive German Tax Evasion Probe, Billions Stashed In Swiss Banks

One estimate is that some 150 billion euros have been stashed in secret Swiss accounts.

More dark days ahead?
More dark days ahead?
Hans Leyendecker and Claus Hulverscheidt

BOCHUM – The German prosecutor’s office in the western city of Bochum announced it had uncovered proof of massive tax evasion, with billions of undeclared euros deposited by German investors in Swiss bank accounts.

The prosecutor in the state of North Rhine Westphalia analyzed the contents of a CD with data from German clients, including 750 foundations and 550 individuals. The data showed secret accounts with Swiss banking giant UBS totaling 2.9 billion euros. The foundations alone are alleged to have evaded 204 million euros in German taxes.

Since 2007, the western state of North Rhine Westphalia has been buying CDs containing information about alleged tax evaders. The practice by the state’s Social Democratic Party (SPD)-led government has met with criticism from Germany’s Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, who believes it adversely affects the chances of getting a global German/Swiss tax agreement signed.

Meanwhile, the SPD and Greens believe the draft agreement Schäuble has negotiated with the Swiss is too lax and are blocking its passage in federal parliament.

There are no official estimates of how much “black” money Germans have in Swiss accounts, though this latest probe, one of the largest to date, offers further signs that the amounts may be enormous. Thomas Eigenthaler, the head of the Deutsche Steuergewerkschaft (a trade union of workers in the finance and taxation sectors) told Süddeutsche Zeitung he believed the total amount was somewhere around 150 billion euros.

According to the prosecutor’s office, only 135 of the 1,300 accounts named on the UBS CD had voluntarily disclosed their Swiss account to German tax authorities as they have the option to do.

The UBS CD is said to have cost 3.5 million euros. Unlike earlier CDs acquired by the state of North Rhine Westphalia, it offers little indication of active cooperation by bank employees to help account-holders evade taxes.

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How A Xi Jinping Dinner In San Francisco May Have Sealed Mastercard's Arrival In China

The credit giant becomes only the second player after American Express to be allowed to set up a bank card-clearing RMB operation in mainland China.

Photo of a hand holding a phone displaying an Union Pay logo, with a Mastercard VISA logo in the background of the photo.

Mastercard has just been granted a bank card clearing license in China.

Liu Qianshan


It appears that one of the biggest beneficiaries from Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to San Francisco was Mastercard.

The U.S. credit card giant has since secured eagerly anticipated approval to expand in China's massive financial sector, having finally obtained long sought approval from China's central bank and financial regulatory authorities to initiate a bank card business in China through its joint venture with its new Chinese partner.

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Through a joint venture in China between Mastercard and China's NetsUnion Clearing Corporation, dubbed Mastercard NUCC, it has officially entered mainland China as an RMB currency clearing organization. It's only the second foreign business of its kind to do so following American Express in 2020.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that the development is linked to Chinese President Xi Jinping's meeting on Nov. 15 with U.S. President Joe Biden in San Francisco, part of a two-day visit that also included dinner that Xi had with U.S. business executives.

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