Dow Jones Newswires 
April 17, 2013
The German state of Rhineland-Palatinate said over 200 raids on suspected tax evaders are taking place Tuesday and Wednesday across Germany, based on data from a computer disc it bought that contained 40,000 records.
The Rhineland-Palatinate finance ministry expects to recoup half a billion euros ($656.7 million) in tax revenue from the data purchase, it said in a press statement. It bought the computer disc for EUR4 million.
Horst Wenner, spokesman for the state finance ministry, said he couldn’t provide details of the seller. He said tax investigators and public officials are visiting 201 parties across Germany Tuesday and Wednesday, based on data from the disc, with 25 of those parties in Rhineland-Palatinate itself.
The purchase by regional authorities of computer discs with information about suspected tax cheats in recent years has been controversial, because of the legal and ethical gray area of buying data stolen from banks in different countries. Switzerland has said such purchases encourage employees of Swiss banks to steal confidential customer data, and even senior German politicians, like Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, have spoken out against them.