German tax authorities have purchased confidential information about clients of Coutts, the UK bank, to see if they were hiding money in Switzerland, according to media reports over the weekend.
Financial Times Deutschland and Der Spiegel, citing unnamed sources, said officials in North Rhine-Westphalia paid €3.5 million (around $4.26 million) for a compact disc containing the names of 1,000 rich Germans who had accounts with Coutts in Zurich.
"We are aware of the continued media speculation regarding a potential breach of client data secrecy at Coutts. Following a thorough investigation, we have no evidence to suggest any such breach has taken place. As we stated to media last year, we take the protection of client data extremely seriously," Coutts told WealthBriefing in a statement today.
One media report said that tax authorities in North Rhine-Westphalia did not respond to emails and calls for confirmation.