German rich list survives court privacy challenge

Fri Apr 8, 2011 10:22am EDT
 
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BERLIN (Reuters Life!) - A German millionaire's complaint that publishing his net worth on a magazine's rich list was an invasion of privacy has been dismissed by a judge on grounds of public interest, the court said on Friday.

The attorney for one of Germany's richest men told the judge in the Bavarian capital of Munich his client's wealth was incorrectly stated, adding that an individual's financial affairs were a private matter.

But the judge dismissed the case, ruling the public has a legitimate interest in knowing about the wealth of billionaires and millionaires, as well as its origins, media reports said.

German monthly Manager Magazin, which publishes the list "100 Richest Germans," said the millionaire's wealth was shown as an estimate because he did not disclose to them his finances.

Germany has some of the toughest privacy laws in the world due to its experience with state surveillance systems once used by the Nazis and the former East German Stasi secret police.

The government has taken on U.S. Internet giants Google and Facebook in the past year over concerns about users' privacy.

Some media have reported the plaintiff as Josef Boquoi, the founder of frozen food company Bofrost.

But the Munich court would not reveal the name of the plaintiff in the case, in line with German privacy laws.

The plaintiff's lawyer in the case, Christian Schertz -- known for representing high-profile clients in privacy matters -- was not immediately available for comment.

(Reporting by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Steve Addison)