Offshore leaks: Liechtenstein and Portugal hit by the scandal
27 May 2013
"Offshore Leaks: Liechtenstein apparently implicated in shady business," runs the headline in Volksblatt. The Liechtenstein daily says that "at least 120 people or businesses domiciled in the principality could be implicated in tax havens".
Liechtenstein thought it had escaped from the "shock wave" caused by the publication of an international investigative report on tax havens but, according to the paper, it is now feeling the shake-up. On May 27, Volksblatt picked up a story published a day earlier by two Swiss Sunday papers Sonntagszeitung and Le Matin Dimanche —
The Principality is almost as present as France in the Offshore Leaks report, despite its clean money policy adopted in March 2009. Trustees in Vaduz and Schaan had clients that were implicated in huge fraud and corruption scandals.
SonntagsZeitung estimates that 30bn Swiss Francs (€24bn) in non-declared revenue is sitting in the principality's safe deposit boxes. A figure that the head of the Liechtenstein government, Adrian Hasler, has declined to discuss.
The scandal has also rippled out to Portugal. This weekend, Portuguese daily Expresso revealed that at least 22 people and 12 offshore companies with links to Portugal were mentioned in the report, but of these, only four people with addresses in Portugal are Portuguese citizens, and none of them is a public figure. The newspaper adds that —
the earthquake caused by Offshore Leaks had an immediate consequence, in as much as it put tax avoidance and evasion on the top of the agenda for the leaders of the 27. But this is an area in which European decisions are taken unanimously and some countries have diametrically opposed interests. As a result, practical measures have failed to keep pace with the indignation prompted by the disappearance of billions of euros in a Europe where the lack of liquidity in public coffers has been cited as a justification for austerity policies. There seems to be an end in sight to banking secrecy, but the process will be slow and those who benefit [from a lack of transparency] will do everything they can to prolong it.