First Germany made it clear that they were willing to pay for stolen Swiss bank account data, in order to crack down on tax evaders. Swiss bankers shuddered.
Now the rest of Europe wants a piece of the black-market action, and the Swiss financial industry is terrified.
Now, the Dutch, Belgian and Austrian governments have also flagged interest in obtaining a copy of a compact disc with tax-sensitive data that Berlin may soon buy from an informant.
Swiss Finance Minister Hans-Rudolf Merz said on Wednesday the Swiss would not help Germany or others hunt tax cheats on the basis of stolen Swiss bank data, but tried to defuse the escalating row by saying Berne would not retaliate.
“It is obvious that such a theft is a criminal act,” Merz said. “Switzerland should therefore not offer administrative (tax) assistance in such cases either now or in future.”