Tax probe links to data breach at Julius Baer

SWISS private bank Julius Baer yesterday said it suspected German client data allegedly stolen by a former employee could have been given to German authorities investigating tax evasion.

The bank’s chief executive Boris Collardi admitted in a German newspaper on Sunday it had discovered “misuse” of client data by an employee.

A spokesman yesterday said the data could have been given to a German state tax authority, which has been linked to several cases of data breaches in Switzerland.

“Presumably they could have the data,” he said.

“It’s a bank issue if we lose the data but we are not responsible for clients’ taxes,” the spokesman added.

Julius Baer confirmed the suspected thief, a male employee in its Zurich office, had been sacked for the data breach and was being held in custody in Zurich. However the firm refused to comment on any potential charges.

It is the third time in a decade Julius Baer client data has been compromised following similar incidences in 2002 and 2009.

At the start of this month the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia said it was pursuing tax evaders who secretly stashed cash in Switzerland.

It is thought state tax officials have previously purchased leaked bank data from whistleblowers to investigate possible tax evasion by German citizens.

A spokeswoman at the North Rhine-Westphalia Ministry of Finance was unavailable for comment last night.

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