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Liechtenstein tax informer said in Australia-paper

Banking

A Liechtenstein man at the center of investigations into a global tax evasion scandal is believed to be in Australia, The Australian newspaper said on Saturday, citing private investigators searching for the man.

Heinrich Kieber is being investigated by Liechtenstein authorities for industrial espionage after he sold secret banking records of individuals to German authorities looking into tax evasion involving accounts in the tiny principality’s secretive banking system. Following the German move, Britain and the United States have also joined the search for tax evaders, while last month Australian and New Zealand tax authorities conducted raids and audits on rich residents suspected of dodging tax through Liechtenstein bank accounts.

The newspaper said Kieber (42), who had lived and studied in Australia in the early 1990s, was in the northern state of Queensland last April, when the trail went cold. He had sent an email from the Queensland city of Cairns to a contact in Europe last February, describing life in Australia as good, the paper said, citing extracts of the email that had been read to it. But it said private investigators are convinced he is still in the country and may have been offered a form of protection by authorities. It said Australian authorities declined to discuss his case. The head of Australia’s tax authority has said it would never pay for information, the paper reported.

Liechtenstein’s prosecutor said in a statement last month that the investigation in Kieber concerns “suspicion of spying out business secrets for the benefit of a foreign party.” In 2003, Kieber was convicted of fraud after stealing data from Liechtenstein bank LGT, owned by the country’s ruling family, where he worked until November 2002. The bank has said it is almost certain that the client data that was stolen is the same as that at the source of Germany’s tax probe. (Reuters)

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