Oct. 5 (UPI) — Werner Mauss, often referred to as the German James Bond for his long history of impressive acts of espionage, was given a two-year suspended sentence for tax evasion, a judge said.
The trial, which has received wide media coverage in Germany, centered around the 77-year-old Mauss’ access to offshore bank accounts containing millions of euros, the existence of which he never reported to tax authorities.
Mauss’ legal team argued the bank accounts were created and funded by foreign governments including Israel, for the purpose of conducting international espionage operations, and not as payment to Mauss specifically. The banks in question were in Lichtenstein, Luxembourg and the Bahamas.
The international espionage credits Mauss is responsible for include foiling a mafia plot to poison Pope Benedict XVI, freeing hostages held by Colombian rebels, arresting Rolf Pohle, a member of the East German terrorist group known as the Red Army Faction, and deep ties in the Middle East. Mauss is said to have gathered intelligence against the Islamic State and served as a mediator between Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.
The judge in Mauss’ tax evasion trial said his life’s work on behalf of Germany and other Western democracies was taken into account when deciding to give him probation. Prosecutors had been seeking a three-year prison sentence.
The largess was first exposed in German media following the release of the Panama Papers, an international data leaks that exposed sensitive financial data for scores of prominent people.