Head of German Post Office accused of tax haven fraud

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Der Spiegel has reported that:

Deutsche Post CEO Klaus Zumwinkel is under investigation for tax evasion. Zumwinkel, who has been at the helm of Deutsche Post for 18 years, is suspected of tax evasion using a foundation in Liechtenstein. SPIEGEL has learned that the self-proclaimed multi-millionaire is alleged to have made use of the foundation since the mid-1980s and that investigators are looking into sums of more than 10 million euros ($14.6 million). Extensive accounts of the Liechtenstein financial institution show that Zumwinkel also considered shifting his assets to Asia or the Cayman Islands, a Caribbean tax haven.

It's refreshing to note that an arrest warrant has already been prepared in case the raids on Zumwinkel's properties produces damaging material against him. But what is depressing is that a well-paid person, earning enough to support a good life style, thinks it necessary to abuse the laws of the country that has provided him with the opportunity to make his fortune (quite literally). This is not just a tale of what looks like personal corruption, although it seems to be that. This isn't just a tale of straightforward selfishness. What is really worrying in this and stories like it is the break down of three key relationships that once underpinned capitalism and with it society.

1) The duty to be honest and to abide by the rule of law;

2) A commitment to the state in which one resides, not as a matter of blind patriotism but in the sense of a commitment to a community and place;

3) An awareness that tax provides the mechanisms within which successful modern businesses operate and that is why it should be paid.

If these go then the market system is itself at risk, as is democracy. And both are very worrying. And both are reasons why every step should be taken to end the secrecy that pervades locations such as Lichtenstein, because it is that secrecy that undermines markets and democracy to a greater degree than terrorism has, and probably ever can.