Liechtenstein open to talks on automatic exchange of banking information

BERLIN – Liechtenstein’s prime minister says the principality is prepared to discuss an automatic exchange of bank client information with the European Union.

Adrian Hasler told German daily Handelsblatt in an interview published Monday that the tiny Alpine nation would consider following the lead of Austria and Luxembourg.

The two countries have come under heavy pressure to help fellow members of the 27-nation EU crack down on tax evaders. Liechtenstein is not a member of the EU.

Hasler says a precondition for further relaxing Liechtenstein’s banking secrecy rules would be that existing clients are offered a “bridge to tax honesty” that spares them hefty fines or prison time.

Germans in particular have long used bank vaults in Liechtenstein and neighbouring Switzerland, also outside the EU, to hide money from their tax authorities.