Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Liechtenstein

630 words

There are ridiculous places in the world. And the tiny countries around the world which ‘earn’ incredible amounts of money by having unhealthy percentages of their population work in the financial ‘industry’ are ridiculous. What do you think if you hear about people having their accounts in Switzerland or Liechtenstein? Brave hard working men! Or rather Crooks in search of tax evasion? Me, I’m firmly in the second camp. Probably ever since I heard the story back in my school (which slowly but surely managed to become a reliable homestead for the dementedly rich) of some kid talking about the family going to Switzerland to pick up some money and I was a bit puzzled because for me and everybody else I knew cash machines or the bank around the corner worked just fine.

And at the end of last week, Germany discovered a big ‘scandal’ about the boss of the postal service having been caught red handed in some tax fraud in Liechtenstein. Everybody started crying out loud about how this is incredible and totally scandalous. But my cynical self could only think that the only incredible thing is that they actually managed to catch the guy.

Reading about it in the paper I learned that it’s in fact quite an amusing story. While Liechtenstein co-operates with European countries on catching crooks, their interpretation of ‘co-operate’ is a very limited one. If you’re chasing some ‘terrorists’ they’ll be happy to help you. If you’re chasing people for tax fraud, they won’t. Apparently because we’ve never done that. Or perhaps because it would be bad for the ‘business’ model their sorry country has – if I may venture a guess. So – once more – as soon as big money is involved, people are speaking out of their butts, or lying as less polite people might say. No surprises there, at least.

Now the funny bit is that apparently the German bureaucrats got off their butts and paid someone serious money for a CD with all sorts of sensitive data about their accounts in Liechtenstein so they can just prosecute people here without needing help of the ‘friendly’ neighbours. Which is quite cool for tax officials, I guess and – if some reports are to be believed – puts the life of the person selling the information at serious risk. – Not that anyone would suspect those hard working and smart bankers of approving any such deed.

Perhaps my view is overly naïve here. But I’d assume that anyone who is hard working, rich, and law-abiding can easily find a bank in Germany which will match the conditions that a bank in Liechtenstein give them. If only because of all the global stuff that’s going on. So why would any honest person in their right mind make the effort of opening an account at such an inconvenient location? Particularly if said person is rich and hard working and thus their time is ‘worth’ so much that they wouldn’t waste on trips to their bank? Just asking.

We’ll see how this develops. Apparently the files uncovered thousands of suspects who have been told they’ll get the chance to voluntarily admit things. Will they do it? Or will they hope to get away with it? It may be amusing to see who’s a crook not just in my imagination but also for real. Of course stories about taxes being too high in Germany will come up. And we’re supposed to start and feel sorry for some millionaires because they already pay much more taxes than most other people (because they have ridiculously high income). But, huh, that’s how this country works, I guess. If they don’t like it they could just move away. I’m sure they can afford it.

February 18, 2008, 0:09

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