Liechtenstein tax row prompts ‘Fourth Reich’ comments

Germany-Liechtenstein relations deteriorated further after reports this week
of a letter in which the tax haven’s monarch referred to the current German
republic as the ‘fourth Reich’.

An incensed Hans-Adam II made the comment in a letter rejecting a request
from a Jewish museum which asked him to lend it a painting from his collection.

The prince wrote that he would have supported the project, ‘were it not in
Germany’, the FT reported.

‘As far as German-Liechtenstein relations are concerned, we wait here for
better times, although I am optimistic, for in the past 200 years we have
managed to survive three German Reichs, and I hope we will also survive a
fourth,’ wrote Hans-Adam II.

Relations with Liechtenstein soured after German tax investigators paid for
secret client information which gave tax officials ammunition with which to
pursue wealthy clients of the LGT bank, owned by the royal family.

In his letter, the 63-year-old prince added: ‘As the Federal Republic of
Germany is ever less inclined, in its relations [with Liechtenstein] to observe
the fundamental principles of international law, we have decided no longer to
make loans . . . to Germany.’

The revelations triggered similar tax investigations from a string of
countries, including the UK. The result was a crises in Liechtenstein’s
financial services sector which relies on high levels of confidentiality for
clients, and whose revenue makes up about one third of GDP.

German officials have not commented on the latest row but the museum’s
spokesperson said: ‘To call the Federal Republic the ‘fourth Reich’ and thus to
place it on the same level as the Third Reich plays down the crimes of the Nazi
era in an irresponsible manner.’

The Liechtenstein royal family issued a statement saying the prince had not
intended to play down the crimes of the Third Reich, or make any comparisons
with the Germany of today.

Further reading:

Liechtenstein pledges to co-operate on tax

Germans get new Liechtenstein data

Related reading