100 Swedes in Liechtenstein tax probe

Sweden's tax authorities are claiming to have acquired information about some 100 Swedes with bank accounts in Liechtenstein.

Writing in Tuesday’s Dagens Nyheter, Mats Sjöstrand, director general of the National Tax Board, said the board’s international unit would soon begin investigating bank assets held by Swedes in the Alpine tax haven.

Tax evasion in foreign countries accounted for around 46 billion kronor ($7.2 billion) in lost revenue for the tax authorities every year, said Sjöstrand.

But, he added, recent developments in Liechtenstein showed that tax authorities were not always powerless in the hunt for concealed funds.

Sweden was very active in exchanging information with other countries in the EU and the OECD, said Sjöstrand, and was one of nine OECD countries to have received account details from Liechtenstein.

But Sjöstrand made clear that the probe was not connected with Germany’s recent crackdown on tax dodgers in the principality.

“Germany is a different track,” he told news agency TT.

German intelligence agency BRD recently paid €4.2 million ($6 million) to a former employee of Liechtenstein bank LGT with access to sensitive account information.

And Germany soon made it clear that it would be happy to pass on relevant information to authorities in other countries.

“Apparently, the stolen data material has also been illegally disclosed, directly or indirectly, to other authorities,” said LGT bank in a statement.

“LGT regards such methods as being extremely offensive.”

On Monday, former government minister Leif Pagrotsky (SocDem), referred to Germany’s methods as “a breakthrough in the fight against organized crime” and called for Sweden to actively attempt to obtain information pertaining to its nationals.

The Swedish government has so far elected not to comment on the Liechtenstein affair.