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LIECHTENSTEIN

Pirate Bay backer caught in Liechtenstein tax probe

Carl Lundström, one of four men awaiting trial for involvement with file sharing site The Pirate Bay, is among a dozen Swedes at the heart of a tax authorities investigation into funds stashed in a bank trust in Lilliput tax haven Liechtenstein.

Pirate Bay backer caught in Liechtenstein tax probe

The Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket) investigation into Swedes with fortunes hidden in a bank in Liechtenstein began in the spring and has so far uncovered hidden sums running into hundreds of millions of kronor and involving up to 40 people, reports Dagens Industri.

Lundström is the most well-known name on the list and is also due to stand trial for copyright infringement in the new year for his alleged financial support of file sharing site The Pirate Bay.

Lundström now stands accused of having hidden some 20.8 million kronor ($2.66 million) as a beneficiary of a trust in the tax haven.

The 12 beneficiaries of the Tilburg trust held in the Liechtenstein Global Trust Bank are accused of having hidden a total of 156 million kronor. The 12 are now liable to pay tax and surcharges totalling some 19.3 million kronor.

The investigation into the Liechtenstein trust began after the German secret services bought bank account details from a former employee at the bank. The German authorities then passed on the information to European colleagues in February.

The Swedish tax authorities have narrowed their investigation down to around 40 people and a further 30 can expect to receive a tax shock from the authorities when the investigation into the bank’s affairs is complete.

The newspaper writes that the trust was presumably founded with the purpose of avoiding Swedish gift and wealth taxes which have since been removed.

“Now that these taxes have been removed the incentive for doing this has declined considerably,” said Göran Haglund who led the tax authority investigation.

The economic crimes unit (Ekobrottsmyndigheten) is conducting a parallel investigation into the affairs of many of those named.

PIRATE BAY

Sweden now owns Pirate Bay domain names

The Swedish state became the unlikely new owner of two domain names used by The Pirate Bay after a court ruling on Tuesday.

Sweden now owns Pirate Bay domain names
The Swedish state now owns two Pirate Bay domain names. Photo: Vilhelm Stokstad/TT

In its ruling the Stockholm district court awarded Sweden the domain names piratebay.se and thepiratebay.se

The case marked the first time a Swedish prosecutor had asked for a web address to be wiped off the face of the internet, Dagens Nyheter reports

“A domain name assists a website. If the site is used for criminal purposes the domain name is a criminal instrument,” prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad told the Swedish daily earlier this year. 

Sweden’s Internet Infrastructure Foundation, which controls the Swedish top level domain .se, opposed the prosecutor’s move to prohibit any future use of the two Pirate Bay addresses.

The court agreed that the foundation had not done anything wrong and conceded that it could not force the group to block certain domain names, Dagens Nyheter reports. But by awarding the addresses to the Swedish state the court effectively ensured that they will not be sold on to another owner. 

The file-sharing service was temporarily knocked off line in December after police seized servers hosted at a data centre in a nuclear-proof bunker deep in a mountain outside Stockholm.

But seven weeks later the resilient file-sharing behemoth was back on its feet and Tuesday’s ruling is unlikely to knock it off balance for long, as the court cannot prevent The Pirate Bay from continuing to run sites on other domains.

The Pirate Bay, which grew into an international phenomenon after it was founded in Sweden in 2003, allows users to dodge copyright fees and share music, film and other files using bit torrent technology, or peer-to-peer links offered on the site – resulting in huge losses for music and movie makers.

In 2009 four Swedes connected with The Pirate Bay were found guilty of being accessories to copyright infringement by a Swedish court. 

They were each give one-year jail terms and ordered to pay 30 million kronor ($3.6 million) in compensation.