The German state of North Rhine-Westphalia has sent to foreign tax authorities information on more than 100,000 bank account holders suspected of attempting to evade tax in 19 countries, the state’s finance ministry has announced. The state Government revealed on August 5 that the trove of information is contained in three separate caches, the first and largest of which includes details of approximately 160,000 accounts held with banks in Luxembourg, and which was acquired by the NRW Government from an anonymous source.
Around 54,000 of these accounts are now being investigated by tax authorities in Germany, while information on around 49,000 accounts have been sent to the Belgian tax authorities. Details on a further 42,000 accounts have been transmitted by the German state to France. According to the NRW Finance Ministry, the second file contains information on “foundations and shell companies with a Swiss bank” and is supplemental to the data disclosed by Hervé Falciani, who leaked details of accounts held by his former employer HSBC Private Bank in Switzerland to foreign tax authorities in 2008. Financial information on residents of seven countries are included in this file.
The third file includes sales information obtained from a “major bank” which the NRW Government believes could assist foreign tax authorities in their ongoing cross border tax evasion investigations. The state of North Rhine-Westphalia has been particularly successful in using information acquired from whistleblowers to prosecute banks and their clients, having collected an additional EUR 2.1bn (USD2.3bn) in tax revenue as a result.