Thursday, February 11, 2010


John Beveridge From: Herald Sun February 04, 2010 11:09AM
EVER since Moses collected those hefty commandments, there has been a marked reluctance to steal things without permission.

So it is a little surprising that the supposed guardians of all things good and right -- governments -- are not only encouraging theft but rewarding it handsomely.

It all started in 2008 when Germany paid $7.8 million to an employee of Liechtenstein bank LGT in exchange for stolen bank records.

That turned out to be a bargain as German, French, US and other governments including our own feasted on officially sanctioned examples of "bank robbery" to serve assessments and collect hundreds of millions of dollars in tax and penalties that would otherwise have been avoided.

Since then the theft of banking records and the gradual lifting of the bank account secrecy veil after the US internal revenue service sued UBS has caused big problems for the Swiss banks as they rapidly lose business.

In the latest case, a "whistle-blower" or "bank robber" -- depending on your point of view -- is about to get paid $3.9 million by the German Government in exchange for stolen account information on 1500 Germans with Swiss bank accounts.

French tax officials are also poring over stolen account details from a bank which has been variously named as being from HSBC private, UBS and Credit Suisse.

If you leave aside the dubious morality of encouraging people to nick data from their employer, the approach seems to be succeeding with UBS chief Oswald Gruebel pleading with staff to try to halt bank withdrawals and Asian banks setting up European desks to deal with a raft of new accounts.

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