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Liechtenstein hands over information about suspected US tax dodgers

The data transfer comes after a demand by the US Justice Department.

A view of Triesen in Liechtenstein.
A view of Triesen in Liechtenstein.
Image: Chris Radburn/PA Archive/Press Association Images

LIECHTENSTEIN HAS PROVIDED US authorities with data on foundations and other investment vehicles held by American citizens that Washington suspects are being used for tax evasion.

The data transfer follows a demand by the US Justice Department for details about 20 fiduciary companies operating in Liechtenstein, a small European nation known for banking secrecy laws similar to those in neighbouring Switzerland.

“The responses we have received by the fiduciaries have been submitted to the US authorities,” said Katja Gey, head of Liechtenstein’s office for international tax issues.

The data sent to Washington involves activity carried out by the foundations since 2008, Gey said, and could form the basis of official cooperation between the two countries.

According to Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger, US investigators are looking for information on Americans holding Swiss bank accounts who had also opened foundations and other investment vehicles in Liechtenstein.

The US is not only looking to pursue its own citizens for tax evading, but also any banks that facilitated such operations.

The US is currently on an aggressive campaign to stop American tax evaders from using Swiss banks to hide their wealth.

This month Swiss bank Wegelin was hit with a $57.8 million fine by the US authorities.

In 2009, Swiss bank UBS was forced to hand over to US authorities about 4,000 files of suspected tax cheats and pay a fine of $780 million to avoid criminal prosecution.

- © AFP, 2013

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