AFP - Bowing to international pressure, Liechtenstein said Thursday it will ease its strict banking secrecy rules and swap information with foreign governments to combat tax fraud and evasion.
"The Liechtenstein government accepts the OECD standards on transparency and information exchange in tax matters and supports the international measures against non-compliance with tax laws," the principality said in a statement.
To that end, Liechtenstein said it would negotiate bilateral accords that would allow information on banking accounts to be transmitted to foreign authorities in cases of tax evasion and tax fraud.
Such agreements would be modeled after a landmark deal concluded between Liechtenstein and the United States in December.
"With the new agreements, the partner state concerned will receive more efficient tax application with respect to foreign assets, the clients of the Liechtenstein financial centre will receive a sustainable legal framework for meeting their tax obligations," said prime minister elect Klaus Tschuetscher.
The announcement is a major step by the landlocked principality to shed its image as an uncooperative tax haven, a year after a major tax evasion scandal in Germany trained a spotlight on its secretive banking sector.
Liechtenstein has been among three countries on a blacklist of "non-cooperative" tax havens -- the others being Andorra and Monaco -- drawn up by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Last month Tschuetscher said it was "unconditionally necessary to get away from the image of an uncooperative tax haven."
International pressure to clamp down on tax havens has been growing in recent weeks, with a summit of the G20 economic powers in London on April 2 due to discuss a blacklist of uncooperative tax havens.
France and Germany have also called on leading economies to break off fiscal agreements with uncooperative havens.