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The tiny principality of Liechtenstein attracts the super-rich for its secrecy and security but, as a bitter legal case shows, there's a price: all legal right are held by the trustees.
Here in this mysterious tax haven — squeezed into half a valley between Austria and Switzerland — there are more registered companies than citizens and it has the highest gross domestic product per person in the world. And so it is not surprising that wealthy tycoons and companies have chosen this tiny Alpine retreat, which specialises in administering offshore trusts and foundations to protect their assets and secure them for their family and future generations.
For the past 50 years Liechtenstein has been the gold standard for wealthy people and ruling families, notably Russian oligarchs, the late publisher Robert Maxwell and the Saudi royal family, to preserve and protect their assets via impenetrable trusts and foundations.
Secrecy and security has been their consistent feature and there have been no leaks of confidential documents from Liechtenstein. However, what is less well known is that this secrecy comes with a heavy price — under Liechtenstein law the beneficiaries of a discretionary offshore trust have no legal rights. Under the laws of the principality, legal rights are held by the trustees. And so if there is a dispute with the trustees, the beneficiaries can be left with no access to their own assets.
This has been the experience of Tamar Perry and her family. For the past two years, Ms Perry has been waging a bitter legal war against a trust company in Liechtenstein called the Lopag Trust and its directors, Louis Oehri and Dominik Naeff. And she blames the principal trustee Dr Dieter Neupert, a Swiss lawyer. Israel Perry agreed for the assets to be managed by the trust for tax efficiency purposes and to keep the money in the family and secure the future of their children and grandchildren.