October 21, 2016
In perhaps the most mind-boggling tax news story across Europe to date, latest reports have emerged that Germany’s own self-styled ‘James Bond’ figure is on trial over tax evasion.
Former intelligence agent for the country, Werner Mauss, has long been a bit of a legend in Germany. Now 76, it is claimed that he once prevented a mafia attempt on the life of Pope Benedict XVI and has carried out operations against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.
Having started out as a private detective at just 20, he soon became a freelance agent, allegedly working undercover for Germany’s BND intelligence service and its national police, CID. He has also claimed to have had rather shadowy dealings with other Western intelligence agencies, though none of these stories have been confirmed.
Interestingly, these recent reports were accompanied by photographs of the former spy in court – a shock event given his ability to avoid the cameras, with no known images available of him prior to 2000.
However, for all his spy abilities, Mauss was unable to avoid the tax authorities. In 2012 investigations were launched against various offshore accounts he holds in a number of locations including the Bahamas and Luxembourg. His name has also been linked with the Panama Papers.
In true spy style, his defence lies on the suggestion that the accounts were set up by Western and Israeli intelligence agencies to fund covert global operations.
While this is certainly a rather unique case – and we don’t expect to come across many tax evading spies on a daily basis – it demonstrates that absolutely no-one is safe from authorities when it comes to paying taxes, even those trained in the art of undercover espionage. For those contractors seeking employment across borders, partnering with an expert is highly advisable to ensure you remain compliant with local tax legislation.
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