It’s a complicated tale of double agents, international intrigue, diplomatic fallout and Swiss banking. German politicians dubbed the affair a cross-border scandal and a genuine “spy thriller”; senior ministers made concerned phone calls to their Swiss counterparts.
Six weeks ago, a Swiss man, known as Daniel M. was arrested in Germany, accused of spying on German tax investigators for the Swiss. His arrest sparked a political spat between the two countries and shed light on two sensitive topics: How the Germans have pursued tax offenders and how Switzerland protects its banking secrecy.
But this week Daniel M.’s lawyers are saying that every part of the story their client told was a lie and that he should be released; basically, they are implying that the whole case has been a big deal about – quite possibly – nothing.
On a Tuesday in late November in 2014, a former Zurich policeman, Daniel M. was sitting on a brown sofa in the InterContinental hotel in Frankfurt, counting money. The former member of law enforcement, by all accounts a brilliant undercover investigator, was relaxed as he put €20,000 in a white envelope. He had received the money for the few pages of information he just handed over.