6th October 2017
He may have negotiated with terrorists and infiltrated crime groups, but according to recent reports, it would appear that Germany’s real-life James Bond has finally met his match in an opponent that is rather more familiar to us all: the taxman.
007 meets his match
Werner Mauss is a self-made secret agent who began his career as a private detective, spying on cheating husbands and infiltrating local criminal gangs to gather information for the police. With an impressive ability to win over the trust of strangers it’s no surprise that he was soon noticed by intelligence agencies.
During his time as a spy Mauss has built up an impressive CV. Between 1970 and 1996 he was connected to almost every high-profile criminal case in West Germany. In the first 12 months of this period it’s claimed that he was responsible for the arrest of 162 diamond smugglers, burglars and drug dealers. He personally arrested a member of the left-wing terror group, Baader-Meinhoff and recovered 41 barrels of missing toxic waste for the German government.
It was his work in the late 80’s and 90’s that led to his eventual unmasking. He became involved in negotiations with ELN guerrillas to secure the release of a German citizen being held by the group in the South American jungle. However, concerned that he was working with the kidnappers to drive up ransom money, the Colombian government blew his cover and he was sent to prison for nine months before eventually being cleared of charges in 1998.
Now, though, the secret agent faces an even tougher opponent.
The taxman remains undefeated
The mastermind was known by authorities for his ability to extract information from criminals using his psychological prowess while still remaining under the radar. But despite these skills the taxman has proven more powerful.
Mauss certainly built up a taste for the expensive luxuries many would associate with the life of a secret agent – including fast cars and private jets – a habit that Germany’s state prosecutor has suggested is being funded by fraudulent activity.
Investigations into Mauss’s financial situation began following the leak of the Panama Papers in which one of his aliases was named. It’s been claimed that during a ten year period he used two offshore UBS accounts in Luxembourg and the Bahamas to evade tax payments on assets worth in excess of $50m (£36.8m).
While he claims that the money came from a trust fund set up by western intelligence agencies and was therefore exempt from tax requirements, his defence to date has arguably been weak, with star witnesses failing to come forward. The trial, which has been a year in the making, will come to a conclusion in early October, with Mauss potentially facing a prison sentence.
Learn from the mistakes of a spy
If a covert operative like Mauss can fall foul of the taxman, recruiters can certainly rest assured that they too will face prosecution should they be involved in such misdemeanours. And with the global fight against tax evasion heating up, partnering with an expert in international contractor management solutions should certainly be a high priority for all firms operating across borders.