May be linked to bank data theft, but authorities cautious
(update) Bern, Switzerland (GenevaLunch) - A 42-year-old man who was held in a regional Bern prison on suspicion of financial espionage died in prison Wednesday 29 September, Bern police say. The man’s body was found by prison staff at 06:30 Wednesday when they delivered his breakfast.
The death may be linked to the sale in 2009 of stolen Swiss bank data to German state authorities, a case that has caused friction between Switzerland and Germany. The Tribune de Geneve Friday evening described the death as “an affair that could turn out to be explosive,” in large part because Swiss federal prosecutor Jeannette Balmer confirmed to Swiss new agency ats that the man was arrested in connection with the sale of stolen bank data to Germany.
The involvement of a third party in the man’s death has been ruled out by investigators, and initial information points to a suicide, say police.
The man has been imprisoned since mid-September pending charges, according to Bern police and Swiss federal prosecutors.
The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg have both reported that the man is suspected of stealing confidential Swiss bank account data, which he then sold to German authorities; Bloomberg says he is Austrian, based on a phone call to Austrian officials. Swiss authorities have not confirmed the information, nor will they release more information while an investigation into his death is underway, they say.
The origin of the Austria-stolen data-German sale story appears to be an Austrian newspaper, but there is little to confirm the story, picked up by other media. Bloomberg reports that “The man, a native of the Tyrol region of Austria who lived in the Swiss town of Winterthur, sold information on 2,000 account holders of a Swiss bank to the German tax authorities, the Vienna-based Krone newspaper reported, citing unidentified Swiss and German secret-service officials.”