German Tax Case Reads Like Spy Thriller
Informant's tale rife with code names and kidnappings
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 26, 2008 5:34 PM CST
Deutsche Post CEO Klaus Zumwinkel, left, and attorney Margrit Lichtinghagen leave Zumwinkel's home in Cologne, western Germany, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2008.The chief prosecutor in Munich Christian Schmidt-Sommerfeld...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Code names, kidnappings, secrets sold to international intelligence agencies: these staples of a thriller movie come from the real life of Heinrich Kieber, the whistleblower who for $7.4 million sold German authorities the information that exposed a huge tax-evasion ring. Kieber has been given a new identity and is living in hiding, but an exposé by Der Spiegel has uncovered past convictions, international adventures, and one very worried mother.

On the run from Spanish police over a bogus real estate deal, he fled to Argentina, where he was kidnapped for 10 days. Eventually he got a job at a bank in Liechtenstein digitizing papers that detailed an international tax scam. Kieber stole the data and sold it to the Germans after the British dragged their feet; American authorities are reported to have bought information, too. Now Kieber has a new name—and little contact with his Spanish mother, Maria, who's merely hoping for a phone call.