Friday, May 5, 2017

The Swiss-German Comedy

Around two decades ago in Germany....the state Finazamt offices in the various states (16 of them) of Germany started to get aggressive about Germans and the way that they hid their money (and profits).  This was NOT a federal conceived was a plan done by each state.

To be honest, Germans with wealth....hate the German system of taxation and think it's unfair.  If you admit more wealth or make more just entices the bureaucratic system to go and devise other ways of spending the money.  So why admit more than your perceived 'fair' share?

The general ways of hiding money?  You quietly get cash....across the border into Luxembourg, Switzerland, or Liechtenstein (at least there twenty years ago).  You open up a secret account, and invest the money through Swiss or other channels.  In recent years....the Bahamas and Panama started to serve as hiding places because of the heat on neighboring states to Germany.

Eventually, one of the state (North Rhine-Westphalia) decided to go aggressive.  They would go and send a guy or two down into Switzerland and try to entice people to provide a vast listing of various banks of their German customers and their secret account numbers.  UBS was one of the first targets of this effort.

Now, you'd naturally look at this and are serving as agents of some tax office in NRW, and are spies.  Yeah.....there's no other word to fit this description except spies.  So NRW eventually pays off some insider with a fair amount of German tax get a huge listing, and then they start to go after these Germans.

At no point over this entire period did German journalists or politicians (nationally) talk a lot about this in terms of spy activity.  The hint was that they were carrying necessary taxation work.

So, this past week....a Swiss guy in NRW was arrested and charged as a spy.  The story behind the story?  He's there NOT to spy on German politicians, or German secret missiles, or German military aircraft, or German nuke plants.  No, he's there to spy on the Finanzamt (tax office) officials of NRW. Yeah, he's looking at the inside of the insider crew from the last episode.

Naturally, the Germans are pretty hyped up....."friends don't spy on friends" type routine.

The problem is....the Germans already opened up this door and made this into a spy situation.  The court folks?  I'm guessing that the Finanzamt folks are a bit worried because it'll come back to associate them as the original spies in Switzerland, and how they paid off some insider to be their spy.

The national folks?  I might assume that they are amused by this.  No one there ever told the state Finanzamt people they couldn't go and be spies in foreign there's no law broken in their mind.  Was the Swiss spy really spying on the German government?  Technically, yes.  But he's just looking for some weak member of the state Finanzamt who owes money or could be blackmailed with the appropriate Swiss hooker in the middle of this scheme probably.

All of this would make a fine 5-star movie, with George Clooney as the Swiss pretender spy, and Tom Hanks as the German goofball being spied upon.  Mix in a couple of Russian mafia guys, a Liechtenstein female banker, some American CIA guys, and you got a great comedy.

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