GENEVA: The public prosecutor in Switzerland has fined a man who has already been punished in Germany for espionage against German tax officials for attempted industrial espionage, the media reported on Thursday.
After years of investigations, the Swiss Federal Prosecutor’s Office (BA) found a 58-year-old Swiss guilty of trying to obtain and sell the bank details of a high-ranking German official, reported the broadcaster RTS.
The verdict was passed on November 1, after the man, Daniel Moser, was convicted four years ago in Germany in a separate espionage trial that sparked outrage there and put the connections between Berlin and Bern to the test.
RTS said last month’s ruling showed that between 2014 and 2015, at the request of a German journalist, Moser unearthed data he believed to be the Swiss bank accounts of the former head of the German secret service August Hanning.
He had hired a security specialist to get Hanning’s bank details.
Not knowing that the three documents presented by the specialist were forged, he handed them over to the journalist and received compensation of 150,000 euros.
That money came from a fourth person – a German private detective – who eventually brought the case to the attention of the Swiss authorities, RTS said.
In its judgment, however, the BA is said to have established that he was guilty of attempted espionage, regardless of whether the documents he had passed on were forged.
However, it could not be determined whether he had intended the information beyond the journalist to reach a foreign secret service or a private company.
In total, he was fined 63,000 Swiss francs (68,000 US dollars, 60,000 euros), said RTS.
The case comes after Moser was found guilty of espionage in Germany in 2017 after collecting information about officials hired by the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia to uncover hidden assets at Swiss banks.
In this case, he was sentenced to probation and a fine after engaging in an espionage operation and naming his Swiss espionage leaders.
During his trial, the former police officer, who also once worked as a security officer at the Swiss banking giant UBS, said in front of the German court that he paid 28,000 euros for the espionage job between 2011 and 2013.
Switzerland had sought the identity of three German tax officials in the hope of being able to initiate proceedings against them for the illegal acquisition of bank details that were protected under the country’s longstanding strict confidentiality laws.
Swiss banks came under massive pressure at the time when several German federal states wanted to buy data on German taxpayers who had parked their assets across the border.
For fear of prosecution, many of the rich and beautiful in Germany reported their hidden assets, which amassed billions of euros in the tax coffers of Europe’s largest economy.