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News : EU Economy Last Updated: Apr 24, 2009 - 5:31:05 PM

Liechtenstein bank LGT says stolen data had information on 1,400 clients
By Finfacts Team
Feb 25, 2008 - 1:23:32 PM

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LGT Bank in Liechtenstein - - Liechtenstein, which has a population of 35,000 people, says that financial services represent an important economic sector in Liechtenstein, but not the largest. 14.3% of persons employed in Liechtenstein are in the financial services sector. Due to the high added value intensity of this economic sector, persons employed in the financial services sector contribute a share of about 30% to the Liechtenstein gross domestic product. The services offered include in particular private asset management, international asset structuring, investment funds, and insurance solutions.

Especially significant for the development of the Liechtenstein financial center were the entry into force of the Customs Union with Switzerland in 1924, the adoption of the Swiss franc as the legal currency, and the creation of specific corporate legal foundations in 1926. The last 15 years have been a particularly dynamic period for the Liechtenstein financial center. The number of banks increased from 3 to 16, and new fields of business have opened up in the funds and insurance sectors. The accession to the European Economic Area in 1995 acted as a catalyst for a series of fundamental changes and made access to the markets of other countries possible.

LGT Group, the biggest bank in the Alpine tax haven Liechtenstein and owned by the principality's ruling Liechtenstein family, has said that records stolen and passed to German tax authorities contain data from 1,400 clients as the investigations into tax evasion has widened to the UK.

LGT  said that the data, including bank information from 600 Germans, were stolen in 2002 and no later data, was given to authorities. The foundations listed in the stolen records had 4,527 beneficiaries, the bank said.

The UK's Revenue & Customs has confirmed that it is investigating Britons with bank accounts in Liechtenstein. It is also reported in Sueddeutsche Zeitung, that the prosecutor's office in Bochum, Germany, now has records from a second Liechtenstein bank, and investigators have begun 700 individual preliminary proceedings.

Last week, Germany warned that it would ``tighten the thumb screws more'' on Liechtenstein if the two countries can't agree on ending the facilitation of tax evasion. The German government paid  €4.2 million to an ex-LGT employee, for a DVD containing records of accounts held on German account holders.

LGT said in a statement:Apparently, the stolen data material has also been illegally disclosed, directly or indirectly, to other authorities. According to reports in the media, the previously convicted offender was paid a sum of several millions for the information and was provided with a new identity. LGT regards such methods as being extremely offensive, particularly as it is apparently accepted that the person concerned could also misuse the confidential client data for other criminal purposes.

The data stolen in 2002 comprises various different types of records. They concern approximately 1,400 client relationships of LGT Treuhand, which were established before the end of 2002. The largest proportion, about 600 clients, are resident in Germany. The figure circulated in the media of 4,527 sets of data represents the number of beneficiaries of all the foundations contained in the data material stolen from LGT Treuhand in 2002. The figure should not be confused with the number of clients, who have deposited assets in one or more foundations which in turn have one or more beneficiaries. Furthermore, the generalization put forward in some cases that all the clients affected are tax offenders is to be utterly refuted.

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