Swiss spy confesses, says he acted out of patriotism and profit

The saga of Daniel Moser, acting on behalf of the Swiss FIS to penetrate German tax authorities, comes to a close but not without an interesting twist.

Swiss spy confesses, says he acted out of patriotism

The saga of the Swiss Federal Intelligence Service (FIS) infiltrating German tax authorities in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) has come to an end with trial of Daniel Moser.

Moser’s work was to penetrate and learn of the efforts of the NRW officials in their effort to identify German citizens who have “private” accounts in Switzerland. Moser had been working on behalf of the Swiss since 2012.

During the trial, according to the Digital Journal, Moser’s attorney read a statement on behalf of his client. Moser did not view himself as a criminal. He characterized his actions of infiltrating the NRW tax authorities and purloining their information as patriotic.

While patriotism was his primary motivator, Moser said was also driven by the sense of adventure and profit. Moser, a former Swiss police officer and security officer within UBS in Switzerland, saw the righteousness in uncovering the “criminal behavior on the part of the German tax authorities.”

Swiss FIS paid Moser thousands of euros to ID German tax officers

The Swiss FIS paid Moser 13,000 euros for the “names, addresses and telephone number of the three tax officials,” according to Reuters. The FIS then paid an additional 60,000 euros for Moser to acquire an inside source within the tax authority. While the German authorities claim he planted a mole within NRW, Moser is adamant that he simply pocketed the 60,000 euros and never attempted to plant an insider in the NRW tax offices.

The trail also revealed the motivation on behalf of the Swiss FIS to identify the three German tax officers who successfully obtained private and restricted account information in violation of Switzerland’s strict banking secrecy laws. So successful were the Germans in acquiring bank account owner identities that many Germans anticipated discovery and came forward to the tax authorities. End result? According to the Digital Journal, Germany’s windfall boosted the country's economy by over a billion euros.

Moser also worked for the German tax officers

A bit of a twist that would have made Rube Goldberg proud has evolved. It appears that while Moser was helping the Swiss FIS identify the three German tax officers, Moser was also working on behalf of the Germans and purloined Swiss bank account data, which he transferred to a CD and turned over to a German contact. The German shared the information with both German and Swiss authorities. The Swiss authorities (not the FIS) arrested and interrogated Moser, during which he revealed his Swiss FIS efforts. The results of the Swiss law enforcement interrogation found their way into the hands of the intermediary, Werner Mauss, described in as Germany’s James Bond.  

While Moser, could face as much as five years in prison, the German prosecutors have asked for a two-year suspended sentence and 40,000 euro fine if he identifies his inside source within NRW, according to L’Orient Le Jour (French).

Regardless of what occurs in Germany, it looks like Moser will also face economic espionage charges in Switzerland for sharing the banking data with Mauss, who put it in the hands of the German tax authorities.

This saga, while convoluted with a few unexpected turns, demonstrates the power of greed. In this instance, we find Moser had a relationship with one entity for acquiring information and then managed to work himself into a relationship to sell the same or similar data to the other side of the equation.

Moser, in fact, played both sides against the middle and got caught by both.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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