Volltext: Liechtenstein and the German tax affair:

asserting that Liechtenstein did not appreciate the way Germany had approached the tax 
affair, there were equally clear words on the German side (e.g. SPD chairman Kurt Beck, who 
found the "Liechtenstein statements simply inappropriate" and said that Liechtenstein should 
behave the way that was expected of civilized States, quoted by Reuters, Dow Jones and dpa 
on 19.2.2008). Die Welt described this approach on 21.2. with the headline "Diplomacy with 
a hammer". Afterwards, both Federal Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister Hasler made a 
distinction between the otherwise good relations between the two countries and the current 
dispute that had to be resolved. 
Issue: "Legality of data procurement" 
Already a few days after the beginning of the "tax affair", FAZ wrote: "Such a production is 
without precedent; this is not a triumph, but rather a defeat for the rule of law. [...] Should the 
German State be able to enforce its tax claims by illegal means? What signal does this 
questionable behavior by the State send, which 1s even being used by politicians to appeal to 
morality and decency and to remind managers of their function as role models?" (FAZ, 
22.2.2008, "State, tax, and morality", 13). 
Under the headline "Germany has a spy" (p. 34) on 21.2.2008, Stern dedicated a major article 
to the question of information procurement. 
In his throne speech on the occasion of the opening of Parliament on 21.2.2008, Hereditary 
Prince Alois discussed the protection of privacy in detail. However, this was not reported to 
the same extent in the German media as his speech at the press conference two days earlier, 
on 19.2.: "The protection of privacy and property should be strengthened at the same time that 
mutual legal assistance 1s optimized. In particular at a time when other States are interfering 
more and more heavily with the privacy of their citizens, and even go so far as to pay millions 
for stolen data, the need of citizens for strong protection of their privacy 1s great." 
Academics were called upon to discuss the lawfulness of the acquisition of stolen data from a 
Liechtenstein bank and the utilization thereof by German authorities, and they offered many 
at times divergent comments on these questions: "The relevant provisions stipulate that the 
BND can only transmit information to public prosecutors, the police and Military Intelligence 
if very grave crimes have been committed." (Jürgen Wessing, lecturer in tax law, University 
of Düsseldorf, Handelsblatt, 19.2.2008, 2) versus "Pursuant to the tax code, the BND staff 
even had an obligation to forward the information they obtained within the framework of their 
general execution of duties." (Ulrich Sieber, German tax law expert, Max-Planck Institute in 
Freiburg, Handelsblatt, 21.2.2008, 3) or "The State may not use illegally obtained 
information. That would be as 1f a surgeon were to operate with dirty instruments." (Jürgen 
Wessing, lecturer in tax law, University of Düsseldorf, FAZ, 22.2.2008, 14). 
Issue: "Bank client confidentiality" 
"Bank client confidentiality, as regulated by law in Switzerland and Liechtenstein and 
protected by criminal penalties, is not profit-maximizing tomfoolery, but rather the expression 
of a free and liberal philosophy of the State that values the individual more highly than the 
State, voluntariness more highly than coercion, and differences with respect to ideas, 
temperament, capacities, predilections, circumstances of life, but also income and wealth 
more highly than uniformity," the NZZ summarized on 1/2.3.2008 (p. 23) in hits article "Bank 
secrecy 1s not tomfoolery". 


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