Good marks from Paris: Liechtenstein passes country assessment of the Global Forum on exchange of information for tax purposes

Liechtenstein fulfils the international standards of the OECD on exchange of information for tax purposes. The report of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes (Global Forum) finds that the legal framework and practical implementation in Liechtenstein largely comply with the international requirements on administrative assistance in tax matters on request. The country report assigns Liechtenstein an overall rating of "Largely Compliant" in this regard. The report is being published today in Paris.

According to Prime Minister Adrian Hasler, "The assessment by the Global Forum is a major success for Liechtenstein's financial centre strategy and an important milestone for the further positive development of our financial centre and business location. It recognises the credibility of Liechtenstein's policy and its implementation in law and practice."

The Global Forum uses country assessments – or "peer reviews" – to evaluate compliance with the administrative assistance standards developed by the OECD. The Liechtenstein peer review was conducted in two phases, both of which have now been completed. The peer review evaluated whether the legal framework applicable in Liechtenstein – i.e., national law and the international agreements that Liechtenstein has concluded – meet the OECD standard. The second phase of the peer review, which just came to an end, examined application of the exchange of information by the competent authorities in practice. The Global Forum has 129 members. So far, 120 members have been evaluated, and 86 final ratings have been assigned.

The report examined Liechtenstein's legal and practical measures by evaluating ten essential criteria. The assessment focused especially on the most recent reforms of accounting rules and provisions governing the deposit of bearer shares as well as the new exceptions from prior notification in administrative assistance in tax matters. It was found that the necessary information on beneficial owners of companies and other entities, accounting records, and banking information are available in accordance with the international requirements. In the event of a request from abroad, the competent authorities are able to access the requested information. In general, exchange of information with Liechtenstein's treaty partners was also deemed to be positive.

In specific areas, however, the Global Forum identified certain deficiencies that have a negative impact on effective administrative assistance, and it made recommendations in this regard. One issue identified by the Global Forum is the overly narrow interpretation of the criterion of "foreseeable relevance" of the requested information. The Government has already made the necessary correction in the current proposed amendment to the Law on Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters that will also permit group requests. A second issue concerns Liechtenstein's administrative assistance practice in regard to requests based on stolen data. The Global Forum considers this practice to be too restrictive and not in accordance with the standard.

"The Global Forum praised Liechtenstein's consistent efforts and measures to implement the international standards on tax cooperation," Prime Minister Adrian Hasler said today. The Government will continue pursuing the path it has chosen, consider the recommendations made, and take any necessary measures to implement them. In the view of the Government, compliance with international standards is an essential factor for the reputation and long-term preservation of the competitiveness of the Liechtenstein financial centre.

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