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Rostock trial probing alleged blackmail of Liechtenstein bank

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20:28 CEST+02:00
A bank in the tiny Alpine principality of Liechtenstein, which has been rocked since February by a major tax evasion scandal, was allegedly blackmailed into paying €9 million.

Four people are on trial at Rostock in northern Germany accused of obtaining €9 million ($13.9 million) by threatening to reveal the names of 2,300 account holders of the Liechtensteinische Landesbank (LLB), the Frankfurter Rundschau daily reported on Saturday.

On Friday the court, which has been hearing the case since April, had documents relating to some 1,850 accounts held by one of the accused placed before it.

"Sums of several millions appear in these accounts," said Leonore Gottschalk-Solger, lawyer for the accused in question, who is believed to have presented the documents in the hope of leniency for his client.

The four defendants, who have not been named, are accused of obtaining the money in exchange for bank documents. The principality is known for its banking secrecy. The court has said that it will study the documents before passing them to the German tax authorities which will carry out its own investigations.

A major Liechtenstein tax scandal erupted in February when Germany launched a massive probe using documents allegedly stolen from the principality's LGT bank by a former employee. Germany then shared the information with other countries, which began investigating their own citizens.

The United States, Britain, Australia, Italy, France, Sweden, Canada, New Zealand, Greece and Spain have all said they are hunting for taxpayers hiding their money in Liechtenstein.

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