- The Washington Times - Monday, February 25, 2008


Tax agency probes overseas accounts

LONDON — The national tax authority is investigating up to 100 British citizens with bank accounts in secretive Liechtenstein after buying stolen data from an informant, a newspaper reported yesterday.

The Revenue and Customs service paid the informant almost $200,000 for the bank details of scores of wealthy Britons, the Sunday Times said, adding that the records had been stolen from the tax haven.

A Revenue and Customs spokesman declined to confirm the report, but said the agency “is using the powers given to it by parliament to protect the [Treasury] from those who seek to hide behind secrecy laws to deprive [Britain] of tax revenues to which it is entitled.”


Rude Sarkozy jab becomes Web hit

PARIS — A video of President Nicolas Sarkozy telling a bystander to “get lost” has become a hit on the Internet.

During an appearance at the annual farm fair in Paris on Saturday, Mr. Sarkozy offered his hand to a man who said: “Don’t touch me, you are soiling me.” In reply, Mr. Sarkozy said, without dropping his smile: “Get lost,” followed by a rude description of the man.

The video was posted on Le Parisien’s Web site and by midday yesterday it had been seen by more than 350,000 people, a spokeswoman for the newspaper said.


Right maintains hold in regional election

BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives kept power in a regional election in Hamburg yesterday that also dealt a blow to the Social Democrats (SPD).

Preliminary results showed that Christian Democrat Premier Ole von Beust, a Merkel ally who has ruled the northern port city since 2001, would keep his job after winning 43 percent of the vote, down from 47 percent four years ago.

He probably will lose his absolute majority in the state parliament and be forced to forge a coalition with the environmentalist Greens or possibly the SPD, which scored 34 percent.


Farmers challenge French food claim

ROME — Italy challenged France’s aim of being the first country to have its cuisine put on a U.N. World Heritage List, with Italian farmers saying yesterday that they produced more specialty foods than the French.

Italian farmers said their pasta and cheese could easily top a bid by President Nicolas Sarkozy at the Paris farm show on Saturday to get French food an unprecedented place on the list of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, which so far applies only to places.

“Italy can respond to their foie gras, armagnac, soupe a l’oignon and escargots with dishes that conquered the world and are much appreciated by the French themselves, like pasta and pizza,” said an Italian farmers association.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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