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2008.02.27 这不是偷窃--而是告密

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发表于 2022-9-6 20:06:57 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式

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It's not theft--it's whistleblowing!
By Megan McArdle
FEBRUARY 27, 2008
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You may not have been following the story, but a few days back, Germany announced that it was purchasing the names of 1,400 foreign account holders--presumptively tax evaders--at Liechtenstein bank LGT. 600 of those account holders were German, and many of the rest from other rich countries with whom Germany has been eagerly sharing the data. There turns out to be a fairly fascinating back story to all this:

Keiber worked for the division between April 2001 and November 2002 and had the job of checking documents that were being scanned and transferred into electronic databases.

LGT didn't know at the time that it hired Keiber that he had a dubious past. In 1996 he was involved in a real estate deal in Spain that he financed with uncovered checks. Since he hadn't been charged, he didn't have a criminal record at the time he joined the bank.

However, Keiber's dodgy Spanish real estate deal followed him to Liechtenstein. In 2001, he was fined 600,000 Swiss francs ($552,000) for fraud by the Liechtenstein judicial system.

Kieber left LGT and the country in November 2002, but before doing so, he created four DVDs containing the details of the client data he had been scanning. LGT said he had been hoping to use the data to blackmail Liechtenstein's legal authorities. "He was not disgruntled about LGT," a spokeswoman from the bank said. "He felt that he was unfairly treated by the legal authorities."

In January 2003, Kieber sent a letter and a tape cassette to Prince Hans-Adam of Liechtenstein, saying that he had been unfairly treated by the country's judicial authorities. He demanded help in solving his legal difficulties, including the issuance of two new passports, and threatened to pass on the stolen client data to foreign media and authorities.

Liechtenstein refused the demands and put out a warrant for Kieber's arrest, but LGT took a softer approach--it managed to make contact with Kieber and coax him back to the country to face the legal consequences by offering to pay for his legal counsel and his apartment in Liechtenstein. During the subsequent court proceedings, the four DVDs were returned to the bank and destroyed.

Or so LGT thought. Having pored over recent press reports about the data that was handed over to German tax authorities, LGT realized that Kieber had in fact kept copies. "We are sure as we can be that it was him," said the spokeswoman of the leak.

Having sent two more letters to Prince Hans-Adam, the last of which requested a pardon from his conviction for fraud, and was rejected, Kieber fled the country again in 2003. "LGT Group is not aware of HK's present whereabouts," LGT said Sunday. "According to reports in the media, he is living under a new identity in Australia."
Kieber seems rather sui generis. Nonetheless, this is a blow for tax havens like Liechtenstein, whose main industry is refusing to tell other countries what's going on in their banks. Tax evasion isn't only a bad idea on moral grounds--when you get caught, you end up paying a lot more than the original taxes in interest and fines. A 1% probability of having your secrets spilled to Uncle Sam decreases the expected value of a secret stash considerably. I'd bet that a lot of wealthy depositors at banks other than LGT are gulping hard and wondering if it's really worth it.




Still, I wonder if Germany and others shouldn't be careful what they wish for. People are more mobile than ever, especially rich ones; they may only succeed in chasing them out entirely, thereby losing all of their tax revenue, rather than just part.

Update Somewhat ironic that this comes just as the German high court decides to limit the government's power to spy on its citizens . . .

Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.




这不是偷窃--而是告密
作者:Megan McArdle
2008年2月27日
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你可能没有关注这个故事,但是几天前,德国宣布它正在购买列支敦士登银行LGT的1400名外国账户持有人的名字--推定为逃税者。这些账户持有人中有600人是德国人,其余许多人来自其他富裕国家,德国一直热切地与这些国家分享数据。这一切原来有一个相当迷人的背景故事。

Keiber在2001年4月至2002年11月期间为该部门工作,负责检查正在扫描并转入电子数据库的文件。

LGT在雇佣Keiber的时候并不知道他有一个可疑的过去。1996年,他参与了在西班牙的一笔房地产交易,他用未被发现的支票进行了融资。由于他没有被起诉,他在加入银行时没有犯罪记录。

然而,基伯的可疑的西班牙房地产交易跟随他到了列支敦士登。2001年,他因欺诈被列支敦士登司法系统罚款60万瑞士法郎(55.2万美元)。

基贝尔于2002年11月离开了LGT和这个国家,但在这之前,他制作了四张DVD,其中包含了他所扫描的客户数据的细节。LGT说,他一直希望利用这些数据来勒索列支敦士登的法律当局。"他不是对LGT不满,"该银行的一位女发言人说。"他觉得自己受到了法律当局的不公正对待。"

2003年1月,基伯给列支敦士登的汉斯-亚当王子寄了一封信和一盘磁带,说他受到了该国司法当局的不公正对待。他要求帮助解决他的法律困难,包括签发两本新护照,并威胁说要把偷来的客户资料传给外国媒体和当局。

列支敦士登拒绝了这些要求,并发出了对基伯的逮捕令,但LGT采取了一种柔和的方法--它设法与基伯取得联系,并通过为基伯的法律顾问和他在列支敦士登的公寓支付费用来哄骗他回国面对法律后果。在随后的法庭诉讼中,这四张DVD被送回银行并销毁。

或者说LGT是这样认为的。在仔细研究了最近关于移交给德国税务机关的数据的新闻报道后,LGT意识到,基伯实际上保留了副本。"我们确信是他干的,"泄密事件的女发言人说。

在又给汉斯-亚当王子发了两封信,最后一封要求赦免他的欺诈罪,被拒绝后,基伯于2003年再次逃离该国。"LGT集团不知道HK目前的行踪,"LGT周日说。"根据媒体的报道,他在澳大利亚以一个新的身份生活。"
Kieber似乎相当自成一格。尽管如此,这对列支敦士登这样的避税天堂来说是一个打击,他们的主要产业是拒绝告诉其他国家他们的银行里发生了什么。逃税不仅在道德上是个坏主意--当你被抓到时,你最终要支付的利息和罚款要比原来的税款多得多。你的秘密被泄露给山姆大叔的概率为1%,这大大降低了秘密藏品的预期价值。我敢打赌,除了LGT之外,其他银行的很多富有的储户都在使劲咽口水,怀疑这是否真的值得。




不过,我想知道德国和其他国家是否不应该小心他们所希望的东西。人们的流动性比以往任何时候都大,尤其是富人;他们可能只会成功地将他们完全赶走,从而失去所有的税收,而不仅仅是部分税收。

更新 有点讽刺的是,这恰好发生在德国高等法院决定限制政府对其公民进行间谍活动的权力之际......。

Megan McArdle是Bloomberg View的专栏作家,曾是The Atlantic的高级编辑。她的新书是The Up Side of Down。
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