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Tax Fraudsters

THE tiny principality of Liechtenstein is one of three countries to be blacklisted by the OECD for failure to co-operate with a clampdown on tax avoidance.With a population of around 35,000, Liechtenstein has a banking system shrouded in secrecy.The OECD named it, along with Monaco and Andorra, as a country that could do more to clean up its tax laws. It has also been accused of condoning money laundering, and tax evasion.Non-residents can set up a foundation, allowing them to avoid taxes. Foundations also minimise requirements to file returns or accounts and guarantee anonymity for the investor.There is no need to keep accounts or submit financial statements if the foundation does no business or trade. If the foundation qualifies as an offshore company, it is not subject to income tax or capital gains tax in Liechtenstein. The only requirement is to maintain an "office" in Liechtenstein, but this can be a mailing address.

THE identities of wealthy British tax evaders will be kept secret, even though UK tax authorities now have access to their details, it emerged yesterday. HM Revenue and Customs has admitted it has details of about 100 Britons who evade an estimated £100 million in taxes through Liechtenstein. The names will only be unveiled in the improbable event of a criminal prosecution. A spokesman for HMRC admitted this was "highly unlikely", because it was so difficult to prove tax evasion in court and it would cost taxpayers too much to pursue a trial. Of an estimated 130,000 inquiries into alleged tax fraud last year, only a "handful" ended up in criminal trials.

Not quite the same zeal the State puts in when it comes to hounding those of the working class who may be claiming a little more than the rules and regulations of the so-called welfare system .

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