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Liechtenstein sends mixed messages on tax

Hereditary Prince Alois of Liechtenstein (pictured) has used his country's National Day as the occasion on which to announce that wealthy foreigners who deposit monies in the principality's bank accounts will face relaxed transparency laws.

He said Liechtenstein's tax matters would be based on "a new foundation" that would lead to stronger cooperation in tax matters in line with "international trends".

Following the conclusion of an Anti-Fraud Agreement with the EU, Liechtenstein will now adopt European benchmarks in this area. The principality endured public accusations of tax evasion and the sale of sensitive data to German and British authorities earlier this year.

Somewhat paradoxically, the Prince also claimed that the famous culture of privacy would still prevail. "While many States are introducing the 'transparent citizen', we practice a culture of privacy that goes far beyond bank client secrecy in tax matters," he said.

In a desperate attempt to appear all things to all men, he went on to explain that: "Our State is here for its citizens, not the other way around." So while there will be increased transparency, it will not go as far as many critics hoped.

Nevertheless, the changes will bring new opportunities as stronger cooperation would make onshore service offerings, such as charitable foundations, insurance companies, investment funds, and pension funds, easier to market.

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