Friday, August 23, 2013

Swiss IT Specialist Sentenced for Disclosing Bank Client Data to German Tax Authorities (8/23/13)

Just picked up this article:  German IT specialist gets three years for Swiss data theft (DW 8/22/13), here. Key excerpts:
A German IT expert collaborating with German tax authorities has been sentenced to three years by a Swiss court in Bellinzona. He confessed to collecting and selling data on wealthy clients of a bank. 
The Swiss court sentenced the man for selling client data from Swiss bank Julius Bär to the German tax authorities. 
The 54-year-old German IT specialist who moved to Switzerland in 2005 confessed he'd filtered the data for German clients of the bank with more than 100,000 euros, Swiss francs, pounds sterling or US dollars and sent a sample of the information to an accomplice. 
He handed over data on 2,700 German clients to be transferred to the German tax authorities and agreed on payment of 1.1 million euros ($1.5 million). 
* * * *\ 
Judges ruled the man could serve half of his sentence on probation. Considering time already served, he may be released in as soon as six months. 
* * * * 
Julius Bär agreed in 2011 to pay German tax authorities 50 million euros to close a tax investigation.
Seems like a rather light sentence for violating such a sacrosanct rule of banking privacy.  And, no indication as to whether he is required to disgorge his gotten or ill-gotten gains.  (Don't know if Birkenfeld was subject to Swiss prosecution and/or disgorgement; in any event, I suspect he has strong disincentives to going back to Switzerland.)

Addendum (This answers one of the questions):

John Leitzung, Julius Baer Client Data Thief Sentenced (WSJ 8/22/13), here.
By that point [when discovered], * * * Mr. Otte had been arrested, and had already used some of the proceeds to purchase items including luxury watches and coin collections, prosecutors allege. 
A dawn raid on July 24 of last year on Mr. Otte's home southwest of Zurich—the same date as his arrest—netted about €140,000 worth of his proceeds from the sale of client data, according to a court filing. 
That raid and subsequent searches later that month resulted in the confiscation of a collection of watches including Rolex, Zenith and Jaeger-LeCoultre models valued at nearly 52,000 Swiss francs ($56,300), according to a court document. Other seized items included coin collections valued at nearly 15,000 francs and a Mercedes-Benz sedan, the document shows. 
* * * * 
The concept of trading in Swiss bank client information isn't new. 
In April, officials from the German state of Rhineland Palatinate acknowledged they had purchased a disk with thousands of German client files from unnamed Swiss banks for €4 million. Officials said at that time they expected the information could result in an additional €500 million in tax revenue. At the time, German officials said in a statement that "authorities need do everything that's constitutionally feasible after careful consideration. This includes the purchase of tax disks." 
In addition, a former employee at HSBC Private Bank in Switzerland, brought attention to the issue by harvesting client information that was later passed to tax authorities in various European countries. An HSBC Private Bank spokesman said the bank has estimated 15,000 clients were affected by the alleged theft, adding that the case is still "under investigation by the Swiss prosecution authorities." 
The former employee was arrested while in Spain at the request of Swiss officials, but the Spanish National Court ruled that his alleged actions in copying and disseminating account holders' files didn't amount to disclosing secret information, because he was exposing bank clients who were possibly violating the law themselves.

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