Unprecedented German tax scandal has intelligence connection
January 27, 2009 1 Comment
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Klaus Zumwinkel was until recently the CEO of Deutsche Post, Germany’s now-privatized postal company, which is said to be the world’s largest logistics corporation. Early yesterday morning, Zumwinkel was given a two-year suspended sentence and fined €1 million for systematically evading taxes “with criminal energy”, as the presiding judge put it. The disgraced former CEO is thus far the highest-profile offender in what has become the largest financial crime scandal in German history. The affair involves nearly 1,000 names of wealthy investors, celebrities, and business executives, linked to illegal fund deposits at LLB and LGT Group, two “no-questions-asked” banks owned by the Royal family of the tiny alpine tax haven of Liechtenstein. What is perhaps less known is that the investigation, which now incorporates thousands of individuals in at least a dozen countries, began through a tip received by Germany’s foreign intelligence service. Specifically, in 2006, a mysterious informant approached Germany’s Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) agency, offering to sell a DVD containing the names of hundreds of tax-evading LLB and LGT Group clients. After receiving and evaluating the authenticity of a number of samples from the DVD, BND agents were granted permission from the German Minister of Finance to purchase the entire disk. The cost of the purchase was upwards of €4.5 million –that is, nearly $6 million. The seller has since been identified as Heinrich Kieber, who apparently came across the information while working as data entry clerk at LGT Group. It is thought that Kieber sold similar information to authorities of several other nations, including those of the United States. The former LGT Group data entry clerk is now believed to live under a new identity in Australia, having been granted witness protection status by the BND. Meanwhile, the BND has come under criticism for sheltering Kieber, who is now wanted by Interpol for having stolen from LGT Group the DVD on which rests the entire tax evasion investigation currently underway by the German authorities.