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Liechtenstein bank trusts to respect tax rules

Published on 11/11/2008

11 November 2008

VADUZ – Liechtenstein’s LGT Group, which has come under pressure for allegedly helping tax evaders in other countries, said Monday it has decided to respect the tax rules of its trust clients’ countries,

But it said it would still maintain banking secrecy for accounts in Liechtenstein.

The bank, owned by the Alpine principality’s royal family, said new business would immediately come under the new rules and that it would consult with existing clients with the aim of bringing their business into compliance "where possible".

"The European offshore business is undergoing structural change, and our trust business must adapt to suit the new realities," said Prince Max von und zu Liechtenstein, CEO of LGT.

"Trust services advisers must find solutions for clients, which are compatible with tax legislation in their countries of origin."

The bank said it will continue to build up business within the core countries of Germany, Austria and Switzerland, but will still offer services – with protection of banking secrecy – for foreign clients who prefer to invest their money "offshore" through the Liechtenstein headquarters.

Liechtenstein, whose banks handle assets for many clients in other countries, has come under heavy pressure from the United States and Germany for allegedly helping their citizens hide billions of dollars from tax authorities.

Investigations linked to LGT have been launched in a number of countries since German authorities obtained in February the CD-ROM of some 1,400 alleged tax cheats with accounts at the bank. Germany has since passed the data to other countries, including the United States.

The US Senate subcommittee on investigations issued a report in July criticising LGT as one of the offshore banks that are helping Americans evade an estimated USD 100 billion in US taxes a year.

[AP / Expatica]