Top court upholds German fight against tax and welfare fraud


Germany's constitutional court upheld Thursday a 2005 act allowing tax and welfare authorities to fight fraud by investigating citizens' bank accounts. 

Five plaintiffs had challenged the legislation, charging that it breached constitutional privacy rights. But the court in Karlsruhe, southern Germany said the only defect was a vaguely worded clause that would require redrafting and fresh passage through parliament.

Since April 1, 2005, banks have been required to disclose the names and dates of birth of account-holders to the German authorities as a matter of course, but not the account balances. Before that, Germany imitated Swiss-style secrecy, making it easier for bank customers to hide assets and claim to tax or social-welfare authorities that they were poorer than they really were. (


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