Friday, August 17, 2012

Those Pirate Guys

This is an interesting German story to tell. A bunch of rich Germans went off over the past couple of decades and got themselves into secret Swiss bank accounts. The Finance Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia got a hint that some guy associated with the Swiss bank had a CD or two loaded with account numbers and names. The Swiss guy would to sell the data to the German government. Naturally, this would mean that the guys with the finance department of North Rhine-Westphalia would have all of these fancy tax cases, and potentially hundreds of millions of Euro floating back into the German tax system.

Well….this week, while the negotiations were underway between the Swiss guy with the secret data and the finance Minister…..the German Pirate Party decided to get involved. This is a upstart group who is made up mostly of young Germans between 18 and 25. It’s not a huge political party, but it’s growing. The Pirates in this case decided enough was enough….they filed charges against the Finance Minister. They think the deal involved here…..is illegal by German laws.

The prosecutor involved and the Finance Minister….are not really worried. Charges have come up before and been dropped because no one can quote a German law which fits and could force prosecution.

As you can imagine…..there are hundreds of wealthy Germans who are a bit disturbed over the mess. They’d like to just walk out and avoid all the taxes. The Swiss guy with the CD’s? I’m guessing that he’s hiding out and a bit worried. He’d like to collect his two or three million Euro and just sneak away. The odds of ever getting another job in Switzerland? Zero. The odds of the bank chasing him down? So far, Swiss banks haven’t developed the Russian mentality of fixing their problems.

I will offer two observations here. First, if I were a President of a Swiss bank….I’d contract out one Russian guy and let everyone in the bank know that the Russian works for me. I won’t describe his duties, but it’d be safe to say that he will fix any problem I have. I would assume that would be the end to people making copies of bank data to be sold.

Second, the Pirate guys may lose this time around, but eventually…..they will hook up with some young aggressive junior lawyers, and find one German law that fits this like a glove. And they will go to court, and take down a state Finance Minister in Germany. It’ll be a shocking day, and shake the political community…..and the Pirates will add another ten thousand members because they proved they could take down some state mechanism when people thought it was impossible.

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