Simon O'Donovan on why the noose is tightening after this week's Liechtenstein expose
By August of last year, just three tax havens -- Monaco, Andorra and, yes you've guessed it, Liechtenstein -- had refused to sign up to the OECD guidelines.
Not that it seems to be doing them much good. Denied the information they sought by the Liechtenstein government, the German intelligence service, the BND, reputedly paid a former employee of one of the banks based in the tiny principality €5m for a list of 1,600 German citizens who had accounts with the bank. The British tax authorities are also understood to have paid for information on British tax dodgers.
With one brutal move the Germans have blown Liechtenstein's banking secrecy, once regarded as the tightest of any tax haven, wide open. From now on, no one using a tax haven to hide their ill-gotten gains will ever be able to feel totally sure that the taxman or the cops won't find out what they are up to. Which, of course, was exactly the result the Germans were aiming for.
That bank employee should be shot.
And would it be tactless to remind everyone that Germans were the reason we needed bank secrecy to begin with?