FIFA snubs England World Cup bid,
prefers Oz billionaire ‘who used IOC
Royals dirty bank to dodge taxes’
US Senators were told that the Lowy family millions were hidden in a bank owned by the Liechtenstein royal family who have occupied a seat on the International Olympic Committee for the last 70 years. The current member is Princess Nora.
The chairman of their Liechtenstein Global Trust is Princess Nora’s older brother, Prince Philipp. The CEO is her nephew Prince Max. Some of LGT’s secret documents, deeply embarrassing for Princess Nora and her family, have been posted on the Internet by the Senate committee.
The bank was denounced in Washington in July for running an ‘Al Capone’ campaign of ‘economic warfare against the United States.’ Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, said the royal family’s techniques for hiding money from tax officials ‘unfold like spy novels, with secret meetings, hidden funds, shell corporations, captive foundations and complex offshore transactions spanning the globe.’
He added that the bank is ‘a willing partner, and an aider and bettor, to clients trying to evade taxes, dodge creditors, or defy court orders.’
In 1996 Frank Lowy negotiated with the royal bank to hide $68 million from Australian authorities. After a meeting in London an excited LGT executive wrote to his colleagues, ‘Lowy seems to have been very pleased with our service and would like to invite Prince Philipp, [and two other officials] to London this summer for a special occasion.’
Senator Levin said an ‘ingenious set-up’ allowed Mr Lowy to ‘deny with a straight face’ that he and his family were beneficiaries of a tax haven that hid assets from Australian tax authorities. The royal family made $476,000 in fees.
Mr Lowy denies tax-dodging, claiming he’s given the money to charities in Israel – but declines to name them and has not explained why he went to such lengths to disguise donations which might have attracted tax benefits.
The scandal erupted in February when German tax officials admitted paying nearly $7 million to Heinrich Kieber, 43, a rogue employee of the LGT bank who stole the details of around 1,400 accounts.
Kieber, who also sold 12,000 pages of records and secret memos to the US authorities revealing tax scams involving hundreds of millions of dollars, is now in a witness protection programme, reportedly hiding from drug cartels and Russian and Balkan organised crime gangs who have put a $10 million price on his head.
One memo revealed in the Senate report states that Prince Philipp, brother of Liechtenstein’s ruling Prince Hans-Adam, was drafted into a meeting to impress an American businessman who wanted to deposit $30 million with LGT ‘as few traces as possible.’
A further inducement offered to potential clients is ‘the opportunity to invest assets on a par with the Princely Family of Liechtenstein.’
LGT used sly techniques to prevent tax inspectors around the world tracing clients’ phone calls. Executives were instructed to make calls from phone boxes in neighbouring Switzerland or Austria. A further instruction was that all the bank’s cell phones must be registered outside the country.
In Britain, Inland Revenue officials admit paying Kieber £100,000 for information on around 100 Britons who used the royal family bank. More stolen documents have gone to Italy, France, Spain, and Australia.
About 300 wealthy Britons who salted away £1 billion in Liechtenstein are being investigated by the UK tax authorities. Revenue & Customs officials expect their investigations to last up to three years and subsequent criminal trials could overshadow the run-up to the London Olympics in 2012.
An bank spokesman said, ‘LGT's practices were consistent with accepted industry standards of the time and do not reflect the way in which LGT conducts business today.’
Earlier this month family head Prince Hans-Adam was forced to apologise to Jewish groups for a tasteless remark about modern Germany being ‘the fourth Reich.’ The royal family are still enraged by Germany buying the LGT documents and prosecuting the tax-dodgers.
July 17, 2008: Senate Report on Tax Havens
July 17, 2008: Senate Permanent subcommittee press release on tax havens