The French conservatives tearing their party up are weird enough. And they’re still at it, with one important figure trying to get deputies to support having a new election, others picking a fight with Sarkozy’s rightist advisor Patrick Buisson, appeals to Cope to step down and rowdy public meetings, the Socialist in charge of parliamentary financing scheming to offer Fillon a little extra. Tonight’s headline: Discord persists between Cope and Fillon. You could say that.
But it’s as nothing to this German story. So there was this guy who repeatedly claimed that his wife’s division of HypoVereinsBank was smuggling cash into Switzerland for the benefit of its wealthy, tax-evading private clients. He even pressed charges with the Bavarian police but nobody took it at all seriously, although he named 24 of the clients and their advisors at HVB and gave details of the Swiss bank accounts. Eventually, he was arrested for assaulting her.
Well, you can’t condone this kind of behaviour.
Unusually, he was sent to a secure psychiatric hospital, and has been there ever since, while HVB surfed the bubble and sank in the crash. Had he been found guilty, he might not have done time at all. No, stop. Going by the account here, he was held responsible, but acquitted on the grounds of diminished responsibility and sent to the funny farm because he thought HVB was crooked, a belief that only a madman could apparently hold.
And now it turns out he was…right in every detail, even if he accused another figure in the case of being on the side of the bankers because he lived next door to one. HVB’s private clients operation was hugely involved in tax evasion, and yes, carloads of raw cash were driven to Switzerland, to be paid into accounts with codenames like “Monster”. The original file on the case has been shredded. And HVB’s internal audit knew as long ago as 2003.
Now, although the state minister of justice is getting support from the top, this isn’t stopping the taxman from working down the list, reminding those on it that an arrangement could always be made for those who voluntarily choose to settle their outstanding debts.
And if that wasn’t good enough, with its distinct Jimmy Savile flavour, a sinister lobbyist hacks into the Ministry of Health’s e-mail on behalf of one of Germany’s most powerful interest groups…the pharmacists.