Liechtenstein's naughty Trustees

For years, if not decades, several criminal cases and scandals have shaken Liechtenstein's financial world. In each of these cases, the fiduciary industry has always been at the centre of attention. The  high level of criminal energy is deeply rooted in the self-awareness of Lichtenstein's fiduciary industry.  The patchy legal situation and the lack of separation between interest representation and controlling bodies fuel the power frenzy of fiduciaries who have committed criminal acts.

Due to the lack of transparency, beneficiaries of foundations or even the founders themselves repeatedly lose control through the actions of the appointed trustees - even information is often refused. The foundation vehicles become independent, foundation purposes are partially changed, beneficiaries are excluded, funds are embezzled, etc. The lack of information rights for heirs and beneficiaries makes it more difficult for the aggrieved parties to prove the misdemeanours. 

These black sheep of Liechtenstein trustees shamelessly exploit the incomplete legal situation because they feel protected by the law. As an example of the failure of an entire (hitherto self-protecting) system, a few examples should be recalled which also caused sensation abroad.


The case of Harry Gstöhl

Power, prestige and supreme court dignity... everything one would expect from a brilliant legal career, the Princely Councillor of Justice Harry Gstöhl has achieved. His conviction shocked the country, as it showed how deeply the trustee problem is structurally rooted in Liechtenstein. > Read more

The case of Mario Staggl

Until the handcuffs clicked, luxury and pleasure determined the life of high society bar-owner and trustee Mario Staggl - without question one of the most dazzling personalities among Liechtenstein trustees. When it became obvious that his wealth was bulid on crimes against his clients, the trustee industry acted uninformed. > Read more

The case of Eugen von Hoffen

A long tradition of delinquent trustees - On 29 May 2001, the 49-year-old Liechtenstein trustee had to answer for investment fraud at the Regional Court in Vaduz. The offence amounted to 13 million Swiss francs. Together with his business partner Rudolf Ritter, the brother of the former Liechtenstein Minister of Economics, and Member of Parliament Gabriel Marxer, he was arrested in May 2000. > Read more

Money laundering through the steel door in Vaduz - the Klaus Zumwinkel case

This affair,referred to in the media as the "Zumwinkel affair" or "Liechtenstein tax affair", caused unrest in Liechtenstein, both in the financial centre and in politics and the public. The topic also remained present in the international media for a long time and increased the pressure on so-called "tax havens" such as Liechtenstein. Is shows that Liechtenstein does not take KYC-rules seriously > Read more

Are Liechtenstein’s trust laws fit for purpose?

Those who have wealth stashed in trusts set up in the tiny principality may face other risks. Liechtenstein has been jolted in the past year by court cases in which local financiers have been accused of abusing clients’ funds.International lawyers question whether its laws on trusts, dating from the 1920s, are fit for purpose in an age of increasing global financial transparency. The Financial Times took a closer look to Leichtensteins trust laws. > Read more

Is Liechtenstein threatened by an exodus of foundations?

"Settlors' rights of intervention would only be half-heartedly observed, beneficiaries would be given meaningless information, and individual family lines would be favoured for no reason. Foundations would even continue without beneficiaries, which essentially only provide income to foundation organs and advisors. Sub-optimal investment of assets also occurs. And even the courts would sometimes give cause for resentment - for example, when dismissals of foundation boards take far too long". The points of criticism listed in this article in the Austrian daily Presse are still part of the core problem today, and the 2020 amendment of the law has not solved them. > Read more

Critic of Liechtenstein's Trust Law

The lack of protection for injured parties, empty words like "risk management", etc. illustrate the weaknesses of the laws in Liechtenstein. The gaps in the law itself answer why the Principality of Liechtenstein is repeatedly the scene of such stored cases. Trusts in Liechtenstein have hardly anything in common with the original from the Anglo-American legal area. > Read more