Economy

On The Trail Of The Fugitive Who Blew The Cover On Global Tax Evasion

After outing some high-profile tax evaders by selling Liechtenstein bank account information to investigators, Heinrich Kieber disappeared. Recently, he turned up in Australia, only to disappear again.

Liechtenstein police mug shot of Heinrich Kieber (2008)
Liechtenstein police mug shot of Heinrich Kieber (2008)
Uwe Ritzer

Heinrich Kieber travelled to Australia for the first time in the early 1990s. He brought his Jeep with him, and spent several months exploring the island continent. Then he reported the vehicle stolen, and got an insurance payout of 62,000 Australian dollars. He'd actually sold the car. Kieber was taking flying lessons, and one day without a word to anyone he disappeared. His Australian landlady, Margret Thompson, was left owed several thousand dollars in back rent.

Some 20 years later, again in Australia, and Kieber's done it again – disappeared. This time, his cover was blown. The now 46-year-old Kieber is one of the most wanted men on the planet. When he worked for the Liechtensteiner Fürstenbank LGT, he secretly copied the account information of some 5,800 clients from around the world, many of whom were hiding money in Liechtenstein to evade taxes. Among the repercussions: in February 2008, along with hundreds of less high-profile LGT clients in Germany, former Deutsche Post boss Klaus Zumwinkel was publicly outed for tax evasion.

Since the data theft, Heinrich Kieber is State Enemy Number One in his native Liechtenstein. The tiny, discreet principality was blown open as a tax oasis thanks to Kieber's divulgences. Under pressure from abroad, Liechtenstein was forced to make some concessions regarding its rigid bank secrecy rules. An international arrest warrant has been issued against Kieber, and some say there's a $10 million bounty on his head. However, according to Kieber, the secret services of several countries including Germany created a new identity for him and also protect him.

High-priced data

The theft made Kieber a rich man. He sold his information for millions to the countries from which the LGT customers on his list hailed. German authorities paid him around 4 million euros. In Australia, 20 investors who had some 110 million euros in Liechtenstein accounts came to light – which is why the matter of the insurance fraud dating back to 1992, for which there was an arrest warrant out against Kieber, was brushed aside.

Insiders have suspected for some time that Kieber – described as something of a loner, crafty, fickle, refined and egocentric – could be back living Down Under. Australia has always fascinated him. And even long before the data theft, he was restless, moving around a lot. This time, though, it wasn't his own choice: reporters from the Australian Financial Review sniffed him out.

All he left behind was a business card with a squiggly symbol on it and the name: Daniel Wolf. He told people at his favorite "Crema Espresso" café in Gold Coast, a town on the east coast of Australia about an hour from Brisbane, that he was an Austrian financier in early retirement.

Kieber apparently moved to Gold Coast in August 2010, which was when he published a book on the Internet about stealing the bank account data. Early last month, Kieber gave evidence to the Australian Federal Court at a closed hearing, speaking freely about the rules of the game in the Liechtenstein tax haven.

In Australia, he apparently lived alone but was very sociable. He was fun to be with, even if he was a little cocky and talked an awful lot, café habitués told reporters. They were less enthusiastic about the time Daniel Wolf, alias Heinrich Kieber, supposedly invited a woman to lunch, but then made her pay because he said he only had a couple of dollars on him. When the reporters started trailing him, he sent them an e-mail saying he wasn't Heinrich Kieber.

And that's the last anyone's see or heard from him.

Read the original article in German

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Green

In Argentina, A Visit To World's Highest Solar Energy Park

With loans and solar panels from China, the massive solar park has been opened a year and is already powering the surrounding areas. Now the Chinese supplier is pushing for an expansion.

960,000 solar panels have been installed at the Cauchari park

Silvia Naishtat


CAUCHARI
— Driving across the border with Chile into the northwest Argentine department of Susques, you may spot what looks like a black mass in the distance. Arriving at a 4,000-meter altitude in the municipality of Cauchari, what comes into view instead is an assembly of 960,000 solar panels. It is the world's highest photovoltaic (PV) park, which is also the second biggest solar energy facility in Latin America, after Mexico's Aguascalientes plant.

Spread over 800 hectares in an arid landscape, the Cauchari park has been operating for a year, and has so far turned sunshine into 315 megawatts of electricity, enough to power the local provincial capital of Jujuy through the national grid.


It has also generated some $50 million for the province, which Governor Gerardo Morales has allocated to building 239 schools.

Abundant sunshine, low temperatures

The physicist Martín Albornoz says Cauchari, which means "link to the sun," is exposed to the best solar radiation anywhere. The area has 260 days of sunshine, with no smog and relatively low temperatures, which helps keep the panels in optimal conditions.

Its construction began with a loan of more than $331 million from China's Eximbank, which allowed the purchase of panels made in Shanghai. They arrived in Buenos Aires in 2,500 containers and were later trucked a considerable distance to the site in Cauchari . This was a titanic project that required 1,200 builders and 10-ton cranes, but will save some 780,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year.

It is now run by 60 technicians. Its panels, with a 25-year guarantee, follow the sun's path and are cleaned twice a year. The plant is expected to have a service life of 40 years. Its choice of location was based on power lines traced in the 1990s to export power to Chile, now fed by the park.

Chinese engineers working in an office at the Cauchari park

Xinhua/ZUMA

Chinese want to expand

The plant belongs to the public-sector firm Jemse (Jujuy Energía y Minería), created in 2011 by the province's then governor Eduardo Fellner. Jemse's president, Felipe Albornoz, says that once Chinese credits are repaid in 20 years, Cauchari will earn the province $600 million.

The Argentine Energy ministry must now decide on the park's proposed expansion. The Chinese would pay in $200 million, which will help install 400,000 additional panels and generate enough power for the entire province of Jujuy.

The park's CEO, Guillermo Hoerth, observes that state policies are key to turning Jujuy into a green province. "We must change the production model. The world is rapidly cutting fossil fuel emissions. This is a great opportunity," Hoerth says.

The province's energy chief, Mario Pizarro, says in turn that Susques and three other provincial districts are already self-sufficient with clean energy, and three other districts would soon follow.

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