Exposed Tax-Scandal Source Says He Fears for His Life | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 10.03.2008
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Exposed Tax-Scandal Source Says He Fears for His Life

As investigators prepare for a second round of raids on suspected tax evaders, the informant who set off the scandal said he fears for his life.

View of the castle overlooking Vaduz, Liechtenstein

Liechtenstein has been under heavy pressure to reform since the scandal broke

Investigators in the Liechtenstein tax scandal have said they will start a second round of probes after Easter, based on information bought from an informant.

In the wake of the first series of investigations, which included searches of 120 offices and homes of tax evaders, authorities plan to look at a further 30 suspects, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper reported Monday, March 10.

The latest cases to come under scrutiny are said to be more complicated and larger than in the last round, requiring more detailed investigations, the paper reported. A third round of probes is set for May.

Informant's whereabouts disputed

Meanwhile, the informant who first provided German authorities with data from the Liechtenstein bank, sparking the massive tax fraud probe, has said his life is threatened.

Post chief Klaus Zumwinkel facing the press

Deutsche Post CEO Klaus Zumwinkel was the first target

The German newsmagazine Focus reported on Monday that the informant, Heinrich Kieber, wrote to German intelligence services: "You are putting my life in danger."

Kieber, who for a while was thought to be staying in Australia but who authorities now believe has returned to Europe, blamed the intelligence services for not keeping his identity secret. He asked them to provide him with a new identity so that he can relocate to South America, but his request has been refused, Focus reported.

Newsmagazine Der Spiegel reported that Kieber fears repercussions after handing over names of members of the Saudi royal family and relatives of former Indonesian dictator Suharto, who died in January.

Widespread investigations

The German government last month admitted paying more than four million euros ($6 million) to the informer for bank data that led to the biggest tax fraud probe ever in Germany, and sparked similar investigations around the globe.

The logo of LGT (Liechtenstein Global Trust) bank in Vaduz, Liechtenstein

The Liechtenstein Global Trust is at the center of the tax probe

Liechtenstein's LGT bank claims that tax inspectors are working from a list with the names of 1,400 of its clients -- 600 of them German -- that was stolen in 2002.

According to Der Spiegel, 134 clients have turned themselves in to authorities in hopes of reducing potential sentences. They include prominent figures in the textile and cosmetic industries, the magazine said.

Austria, Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Greece, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden and the United States have also launched investigations into their citizens' investments in Liechtenstein.

The tiny tax haven is now facing intense pressure to reform its lucrative financial sector and help fight fiscal fraud.

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