Since this case broke in February, governments around the world have been investigating the possibility that their citizens have offshore accounts set up mainly to avoid paying taxes. Germany, which as of late 2008, is leading the international crackdown on tax evaders, has reportedly collected up to 250 million euros from more than 200 tax evaders who have turned themselves in, and from 330 citizens who wrongly believed they were on the list of accounts stolen from LGT Group (the largest family-owned private wealth and asset manager in Europe, owned by the Prince of Liechtenstein and thought by many to be the factor behind the US crackdown on tax evasion through their FATCA legislation.
When prompted for a comment regarding Canadians, the CRA refuses to comment.
The CRA would not even throw the press a bone by offering how many Canadians are involved, if the CRA is investigating, and if the CRA would accept voluntary disclosure from those involved in order to help them come clean without the fear of penalties and / or prosecution.
One can wonder if the silence is a result of a crack team of CRA staff who have known about and are working on resolving the Canadians attached to this list, or whether this whole situation came out of left field and the CRA is scrambling to get more information before they can respond publicly.
For those of you who are unaware, this came to light when in February when a former LGT computer technician name Heinrich Kieber stole and sold account information of about 1,400 wealthy clients to the German foreign intelligence service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst. Germany then shared the data with other countries which triggered an international crackdown on tax evasion.
Kieber, for his part, has been given a new identity and placed in witness protection in an undisclosed country. During a hearing in the US, surrounding US citizens’ use of banks in Liechtenstein and Switzerland, Kieber answered questions and outlined the extensive efforts and schemes enlisted by the bank to ensure secrecy.
Swiss banks will now refuse to hold offshore money from US citizens and the US plans on suing the bank. This is just the beginning!
Should Canada follow the lead of other countries investigating their citizens who have accounts in Liechtenstein? Those countries have made public the number of people who have stepped forward and declared their offshore income. Is there is reason why Canada remains quiet?
Only time will tell.