Banking secrecy's days numbered: Liechtenstein prince

Europe is heading towards the automatical transfer of banking data to fight tax evasion, Prince Hans-Adam of Liechtenstein said Tuesday, amid growing pressure to abandon banking secrecy.

"I think that we are moving in the direction of automatic data transfer. The pressure is growing ever greater," the tiny principality's former head of state said in a visit to Austria.

Consensus is building in the European Union to abolish banking secrecy and for countries to automatically pass information on bank depositors to the countries where they pay tax.

Still holding out however is Austria, although the government has said that it is willing to discuss lifting banking secrecy for foreign depositors, but not for Austrians.

At present Austria, which was sharply criticised this week by Brussels, levies a withholding tax on interest earned held by foreign investors and only informs their home countries if requested to do so.

Liechtenstein and Switzerland are outside the EU, however, and both countries have traditionally been prime destinations for undeclared funds. Both have however recently been cracking down and sharing more information with other countries.