Bundesgerichtshof overturns judgement against former German secret agent for tax evasion

The Federal Supreme Court has found contradictions in the judgment against the former German secret agent Werner Mauss because of the accusation of tax evasion. The Federal Supreme Court overturned the ruling and referred the case back to another criminal division of the Bochum Regional Court for a new hearing.

1. Secret agent alleged to have evaded taxes in the millions

The public prosecutor’s office in Bochum accused the former secret agent of tax evasion. He allegedly hid 35 million euros on accounts in the South Seas from the German tax authorities and did not tax them. The former secret agent is said to have used the money to finance a luxurious life. Among other things, he is said to have bought several sports cars and riding horses from the money and lived in a luxurious villa. The accused kept accounts with the Swiss bank UBS, among others. As part of the proceedings, numerous cash deposits on the Bahamas and cash withdrawals in Luxembourg amounting to several 100,000.00 euros were uncovered.

The accused denied the allegations. He stated that the money had not belonged to him. Rather, he wants it parked in the accounts for third parties for secret missions.

2. Conviction for tax evasion

The Bochum Regional Court sentenced the former agent to two years probation in October 2017. The court considered the accusation that 35 million euros had remained untaxed to be confirmed. Although, according to the Federal Court of Justice, a probation sentence for tax evasion in excess of 1 million euros is generally no longer an option, the former agent was sentenced to probation. The “impressive life performance” of the agent had been taken into account in the judgement. In addition to the suspended sentence, the defendant had to pay 200,000.00 euros to a charitable organisation.

3. Appeal to the Bundesgerichtshof

Both the accused and the public prosecutor’s office appealed against the judgement of the Bochum Regional Court. The defense of the former agent argued that the court had not sufficiently considered exculpatory evidence. The public prosecutor’s office took the view that a suspended sentence for tax evasion on this scale was contrary to the principles of the rule of law.

The Federal Supreme Court has now overturned the judgment. The judgement of the Bochum Regional Court was contradictory on one important point. It was not clearly established whether the accused was aware of his tax liability.

After the successful appeal, the defense initially wants to wait for the BGH’s reasons for the decision. The aim of the defence was still an acquittal.