Monaco joins Germany to fight tax evasion

Officials from Monaco assured German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday that they would step up their efforts to combat international tax evasion.

Monaco joins Germany to fight tax evasion
Photo: dpa

The tiny principality on the Mediterranean coast said it wants to join Germany in the fight against tax evasion and money laundering. Prince Albert II of Monaco met with Merkel in Berlin on Wednesday to discuss tax-related issues. Berlin has increased pressure on tax havens like Monaco after after a recent tax evasion scandal in Liechtenstein was uncovered by German authorities.

Monaco, like Liechtenstein, has no income tax and is known as magnet for the wealthy. But Monanco’s Finance Minister Gilles Tonelli said his country won’t stand on the sidelines when it comes to fighting tax evaders – as long as there is an international data exchange that every nation agrees to acknowledge.

After Wednesday’s meeting, Etienne Franzi, President of CMB, Monaco’s banking association, said the Liechtenstein tax evasion scandal won’t effect Monaco’s financial community. “The financial market in Monaco is clean,” he said.

Franzi also said his tiny country is ready to work more closely with Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office to combat money laundering and international terrorism, as well as willing to sign a treaty to solidify the agreement.


Swiss history: How the army attacked Liechtenstein three times — by mistake 

Switzerland has been neutral for the past 500 years. But that didn’t stop it from “invading” its tiny neighbour three times in the past 35 years. How did this happen?

Swiss history: How the army attacked Liechtenstein three times — by mistake 
Only a footbridge separates Switzerland from Liechtenstein. Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP

Liechtenstein lies very – and, it would seem, dangerously —close to Switzerland. Where a border should be between the two Alpine nations there is only a footbridge, which may explain why the Swiss military made its way into the minuscule, 23-kilometre-long principality with such ease.

The first incident in the ‘oops…sorry’ category happened in 1985. During a training exercise in the proper use of ground-to-air-missiles, Swiss artillery launched rockets straight into Liechtenstein, igniting a massive forest fire along with a diplomatic snafu.

At first the Swiss claimed that strong winds, which were blowing in the region on that day, were to blame for the misdirected launch. But in the end, the government paid several million francs for damages inflicted on Liechtenstein’s forests.

Seven years later, Switzerland struck again.

Army recruits were on maneuvers when they received orders to set up an observation post in Triesenberg. The soldiers obliged, until local residents started to ask what the Swiss military unit was doing in their town. It was only then that the recruits — and their commanders — realised that Triesenberg is located in Liechtenstein.

Fast-forward to a rainy night in 2007, when 170 troops armed with rifles (but apparently not with a GPS) stumbled into Liechtenstein. They marched on for more than a kilometre until someone exclaimed, “Hey, this isn’t Switzerland”! (“Hey, das isch nöd d Schwiiz”)!

At this point the soldiers turned around and hot-footed it back home.

In all fairness, it is difficult to tell Switzerland apart from Liechtenstein, even in broad daylight. Rural areas in both countries look the same, and people in both nations speak the same Swiss German dialect and use Swiss franc as their currency.

Imagine how much more complicated it is to distinguish one country from another when it’s dark and raining.

According to reports, the incident did not have any political repercussions.

“It’s not like they stormed over here with attack helicopters or something”, Markus Amman, Liechtenstein’s spokesman for the Interior, remarked at the time.

“These things happen”, he added philosophically, no doubt referring to the two previous episodes when the mighty Swiss army came uninvited.

READ MORE: Swiss history: How the Swiss army refused to decommission its pigeons