UK signs deal with Liechtenstein over tax data disclosure

THE UK has signed a landmark deal with Liechtenstein to aid the recovery of tax revenues from British people with bank accounts in the tiny mountainous principality.<br /><br />HM Revenue and Customs reached an agreement with the Liechtenstein authorities to encourage 5,000 Britons to hand over data on an estimated &pound;3bn stashed in secret accounts.<br /><br />UK citizens will be allowed to disclose details of their accounts voluntarily in return for limitations on the penalties they face and a reduced chance of prosecution for tax evasion.<br /><br />Account-holders will have to repay 10 years of unpaid taxes, but will see penalty charges capped at 10 per cent of total tax evaded if they disclose their details fully and voluntarily.<br /><br />&ldquo;Those who have been evading UK tax on assets held in Liechtenstein banks must now settle with us. There are no alternatives,&rdquo; said HMRC permanent secretary for tax, Dave Hartnett. HMRC added that those who did not disclose their details would risk having their accounts closed and their savings wiped out.<br /><br />Liechtenstein has been facing increasing international pressure to relax bank secrecy laws in the face of efforts to crack down on tax havens.<br /><br />The principality&rsquo;s concessions come after a mole in the Liechtenstein General Trust (LGT) sold details of wealthy international investors to German tax authorities.<br /><br />People who have hidden funds in Liechtenstein include Saddam Hussein, drug baron Pablo Escobar and Robert Maxwell.