Four Corners 'Tax Me If You Can'

His present identity and whereabouts are mysteries to all but a select few. When he reveals his story to members of a powerful US Senate committee, he's just a silhouette on a screen. The man who used to be known as Heinrich Kieber lives his life immersed in secrets. Six years ago Kieber was an obscure computer technician updating systems inside LGT, a bank owned by the royal family of tiny Liechtenstein. Now he's attracted international fame, fortune and alleged death threats as a whistleblower, after making off with 12,000 pages of LGT documents that set out its clients' extremely private financial affairs in embarrassing and often incriminating detail.

 

"His revelations are explosive," sums up a US Senator. Kieber sold the data to German authorities for about $6 million. Now hundreds of Germany's richest are being investigated for their tax affairs. Jail may await some. And a posse of western governments, including Australia, are tracking the fortunes that their wealthy citizens stashed behind the secret walls of Liechtenstein's banks. Four Corners tells the remarkable story of Heinrich Kieber - roguish hero to some, amoral thief to others - and the worldwide fallout from his actions. In the US, Europe and Australia there is fresh impetus to crack down on tax havens. About 50 countries sell bank secrecy services to foreign clients in a thriving industry worth trillions - and Liechtenstein is seen as one of the worst culprits.

 

As Four Corners reports, a rare spotlight has now been thrown on the devices Liechtenstein uses to keep its clients' affairs away from the tax man. Many are complex; some disarmingly simple, like posting letters from neighbouring countries to avoid attention.

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Production Year: 
2008
Duration: 
45 mins
Series Episode
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