Transparency has a cost for Liechtenstein, and is not an abuse of rights

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The Guardian has reported that:

A German-led clampdown on tax dodgers has scared savers away from Liechtenstein’s banks and it could take years to win them back, prompting the tiny state to seek to lessen its reliance on the tax haven business.

And this:

The No.1 [ Lichtenstein] bank LGT, owned by the ruling family, said net new money fell to 335 million Swiss francs ($305.9 million) in the first half from 6.2 billion a year ago, while assets under management fell 7.5 billion to 95.3 billion francs.

Both are good news. It is clear that transparency has a cost of the tax havens. Of course, I’ve always argued that. Real transparency would destroy tax havens.

When I was in Canada I was asked what I meant by transparency, and how this interacted with privacy. I made it clear that my position is simple. If someone wants privacy they can have it. They can undertake transactions in their own name. If they do that in Lichtenstein, for example, then they would either have to exchange information with other EU states under the terms of the EU savings tax directive or suffer tax withholding at source. The vast majority of the market for services in Lichtenstein does come from the EU, by the way.

But, if a person wants to make use of structures created artificially by law, be that a corporation or trust in their various forms, then there is a price to pay. The price is twofold. The first is taxation on the entity and the second is transparency as to its ownership, management, and performance. No one has to use companies or trusts. It is a choice. It is a choice that involves the foregoing of privacy for the benefit society provides through their use. There is no compromise of privacy or human rights in saying so. Let no one pretend otherwise.