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Bank secrecy laws start to ease

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Bank secrecy laws start to ease

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As the financial crisis prompts hard-up western governments to more aggressively seek out tax evaders, Liechtenstein has agreed to ease its strict bank secrecy.

The tiny principality has said it will now commit to international tax standards and be more co-operative with other countries’ tax authorities when requested. The move increases pressure on other tax havens to make similar concessions. Liechtenstein’s neighbour Switzerland is reviewing its banking secrecy laws following a US government tax fraud investigation into services offered by UBS to wealthy American clients. Liechtenstein agreed in December to share information on tax evasion with the US and is talking to the European Union about more tax cooperation. Andorra, a bank secrecy stronghold on the French-Spanish border, has just said it will pass a law later this year relaxing bank secrecy there. By doing that it hopes to be removed from an Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development blacklist. This all comes ahead of April’s G20 summit in London where the leaders of rich nations and emerging powers will consider ways to fight tax evasion and how to crack down on non-cooperative tax centres.