The U.S. reportedly plans to sign an agreement with the government of Liechtenstein that will help put a stop to the use of the small European principality as a tax haven.
The agreement will be signed December 8 in the Liechtenstein capital of Vaduz, according to Bloomberg News. The Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service have been probing U.S. taxpayers' use of secret bank accounts in Europe to hide their assets (see IRS Cracks Down on Liechtenstein Tax Evaders).
The Liechtenstein probe began when an employee with the country's LGT banking group sold a CD-ROM containing data on secret customer accounts to German authorities for about $6.2 million. The CD contained a list of more than 1,000 names of wealthy individuals who had made deposits at the bank.
The U.S.-Liechtenstein agreement follows on the heels of efforts to convince Swiss banks to disclose more information about their U.S. customer accounts. Last month, the Justice Department and the IRS accused a senior UBS executive of helping U.S. taxpayers evade income taxes on approximately $20 billion in assets (see UBS Exec Charged with Tax Evasion Conspiracy).
The tax shelter probe has reportedly expanded to another Swiss bank, Credit Suisse, as well as London-based HSBC, according to The New York Times.
U.S. authorities have been pressing Swiss banks to disclose more information about their customer accounts, but Swiss banking laws expressly forbid the sharing of private customer information. UBS said in July, however, that it would stop providing offshore banking services to U.S. residents.
Two other small European countries, Monaco and Andorra, have not yet signed tax haven agreements with the U.S.
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