The Organized Crime Index | ENACT
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Liechtenstein
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    Profile

    Liechtenstein

    Capital

    Vaduz

    Gross domestic product (GDP)

    No data

    Income group

    High income

    Population

    39,039

    Area

    160 km²

    Geography type

    Landlocked

    2.270.39

    Criminality score

    190th of 193 countries 0

    44th of 44 countries in Europe0

    11th of 11 countries in Western Europe0

    Criminal markets

    2.330.33

    An assessment of the value, prevalence and non-monetary impacts of a specific crime type.

    Human trafficking

    2.000.00

    Illicit activity involving coercion, deception, abduction or fraud for the purpose of exploitation, regardless of the victim’s consent.

    Human smuggling

    1.500.00

    Activities by an organized crime group involving the illegal entry, transit or residence of migrants for a financial or material benefit.

    Extortion & protection racketeering

    2.00 n/a

    Crimes linked to exerting control over a territory/market including as a mediator and/or requesting a benefit in exchange for protection.

    Arms trafficking

    2.00-0.50

    The sale, acquisition, movement, and diversion of arms, their parts and ammunition from legal to illegal commerce and/or across borders.

    Trade in counterfeit goods

    1.00 n/a

    The production, transport, storage and sale of goods that are fraudulently mislabeled or fraudulent imitations of registered brands.

    Illicit trade in excisable goods

    1.00 n/a

    The illicit transport, handling and sale of excise consumer goods despite a ban or outside a legal market. Excludes oil and counterfeits.

    Flora crimes

    1.500.00

    The illicit trade and possession of species covered by CITES convention, and other species protected under national law.

    Fauna crimes

    1.500.00

    The poaching, illicit trade in and possession of species covered by CITES and other species protected by national law. Includes IUU fishing.

    Non-renewable resource crimes

    1.500.00

    The illicit extraction, smuggling, mingling, bunkering or mining of natural resources and the illicit trade of such commodities.

    Heroin trade

    2.000.00

    The production, distribution and sale of heroin. Consumption of the drug is considered in determining the reach of the criminal market.

    Cocaine trade

    3.000.50

    The production, distribution and sale of cocaine and its derivatives. Consumption is considered in determining the reach of the market.

    Cannabis trade

    3.500.50

    The illicit cultivation, distribution and sale of cannabis oil, resin, herb or leaves. Consumption is used to determine the market's reach.

    Synthetic drug trade

    2.000.00

    The production, distribution and sale of synthetic drugs. Consumption is considered in determining the reach of the market.

    Cyber-dependent crimes

    4.00 n/a

    Organized crimes that rely solely on using information communications technology with the aim of obtaining a monetary/material benefit.

    Financial crimes

    6.50 n/a

    Organized crime that results in a monetary loss via financial fraud, embezzlement, misuse of funds, tax evasion and abusive tax avoidance.

    Criminal actors

    2.200.45

    An assessment of the impact and influence of a specific criminal actor type on society.

    Mafia-style groups

    1.000.00

    Clearly defined organized crime groups that usually have a known name, defined leadership, territorial control and identifiable membership.

    Criminal networks

    1.500.00

    Loose networks of criminal associates engaging in criminal activities who fail to meet the defining characteristics of mafia-style groups.

    State-embedded actors

    1.500.00

    Criminal actors that are embedded in, and act from within, the state’s apparatus.

    Foreign actors

    3.000.00

    State and/or non-state criminal actors operating outside their home country. Includes foreign nationals and diaspora groups.

    Private sector actors

    4.00 n/a

    Profit-seeking individuals/entities who own/control a part of the legal economy free from the state, that collaborate with criminal actors.

    8.460.04

    Resilience score

    2nd of 193 countries -1

    2nd of 44 countries in Europe-1

    1st of 11 countries in Western Europe0

    Political leadership & governance

    9.000.00

    The State's role in responding to organized crime and its effectiveness. Strong political leadership/governance suggests higher resilience.

    Government transparency and accountability

    8.000.00

    The degree to which states have put oversight mechanisms in place to ensure against state collusion in illicit activities.

    International cooperation

    7.500.00

    A country's supranational structures and processes of interaction, policy making and concrete implementation to respond to organized crime.

    National policies and laws

    9.000.00

    A state's legal action and structures put in place to respond to organized crime.

    Judicial system and detention

    9.000.00

    Refers to a state’s judiciary’s power to effectively and independently enforce judgments on organized crime-related cases.

    Law enforcement

    8.500.50

    The state’s ability to investigate, gather intelligence, protect and enforce adherence to its rules and procedures against organized crime.

    Territorial integrity

    9.500.00

    The degree to which states are able to control their physical and cyber territory and infrastructure against organized criminal activities.

    Anti-money laundering

    5.000.00

    A state’s ability to implement measures to combat money laundering and other related threats to the integrity of its financial system.

    Economic regulatory capacity

    8.500.00

    The ability to control/manage the economy and regulate transactions (national and international) for trade to thrive within the rule of law.

    Victim and witness support

    9.500.00

    Assistance provided to victims of various forms of organized crime, including initiatives such as witness protection programs.

    Prevention

    9.500.00

    Refers to the existence of strategies, measures, resource allocation, programmes and processes that are aimed to inhibit organized crime.

    Non-state actors

    8.500.00

    The degree non-state actors are allowed to engage in OC responses and their roles in supporting State efforts/ as watchdogs to governments.

    8.46 2.20 2.33 8.46 2.20 2.33

    8.460.04

    Resilience score

    2nd of 193 countries -1

    2nd of 44 countries in Europe-1

    1st of 11 countries in Western Europe0

    Political leadership & governance

    9.000.00

    The State's role in responding to organized crime and its effectiveness. Strong political leadership/governance suggests higher resilience.

    Government transparency and accountability

    8.000.00

    The degree to which states have put oversight mechanisms in place to ensure against state collusion in illicit activities.

    International cooperation

    7.500.00

    A country's supranational structures and processes of interaction, policy making and concrete implementation to respond to organized crime.

    National policies and laws

    9.000.00

    A state's legal action and structures put in place to respond to organized crime.

    Judicial system and detention

    9.000.00

    Refers to a state’s judiciary’s power to effectively and independently enforce judgments on organized crime-related cases.

    Law enforcement

    8.500.50

    The state’s ability to investigate, gather intelligence, protect and enforce adherence to its rules and procedures against organized crime.

    Territorial integrity

    9.500.00

    The degree to which states are able to control their physical and cyber territory and infrastructure against organized criminal activities.

    Anti-money laundering

    5.000.00

    A state’s ability to implement measures to combat money laundering and other related threats to the integrity of its financial system.

    Economic regulatory capacity

    8.500.00

    The ability to control/manage the economy and regulate transactions (national and international) for trade to thrive within the rule of law.

    Victim and witness support

    9.500.00

    Assistance provided to victims of various forms of organized crime, including initiatives such as witness protection programs.

    Prevention

    9.500.00

    Refers to the existence of strategies, measures, resource allocation, programmes and processes that are aimed to inhibit organized crime.

    Non-state actors

    8.500.00

    The degree non-state actors are allowed to engage in OC responses and their roles in supporting State efforts/ as watchdogs to governments.

    Analysis

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    People

    A human trafficking market is thought to exist within Liechtenstein, but the market is small and not consolidated. There is some evidence of local demand for trafficking victims to be exploited within sectors such as nightclubs, but it is primarily a transnational crime carried out by foreign actors and is a minimal problem within the country. Due to an effective state strategy against trafficking and smuggling, there is no evidence to suggest a market for human smuggling in Liechtenstein. Its size and location are a natural barrier to criminal activity and migration predominantly occurs through legal channels. Extortion and protection racketeering are not a major issue, although cases are reported sporadically.

    Trade

    The market for illicit arms is small to non-existent compared to markets in neighbouring countries, and Liechtenstein has regulations to control the import, export and transit of arms. However, there is some evidence of very small-scale smuggling of firearms and ammunition. Local involvement in the arms trade is unlikely, regardless of demand, and foreign actors are assumed to be involved in the market as part of larger transnational crimes. Arms trafficking is likely facilitated by Liechtenstein’s banking secrecy laws and it seems reasonable to assume that at least some traffickers hold bank accounts there.

    There is no information to support the presence of counterfeit goods nor of illicit trade in excise goods in Liechtenstein.

    Environment

    There is no evidence of an established illicit flora market in Liechtenstein, with only anecdotal cases being reported and the impact of this market continues to be insignificant in the country. Although there is no evidence of illegal fauna trading into or out of Liechtenstein, there have been incidents of poaching in the country’s forests. But these have been minimal and were carried out by individuals rather than criminal organizations. As Liechtenstein has very few natural resources, non-renewable resource crime is not an issue.

    Drugs

    There is no well-established criminal market for heroin in Liechtenstein. It is not commonly consumed locally, nor traded internationally. While the country’s geo-strategic position on transit routes into Europe may leave it vulnerable to infiltration by criminal organizations, the heroin market at present is negligible. While there is no organized market for cocaine, local demand is rising, especially among the youth, particularly foreign students, and online purchases are becoming more commonplace. While the drug is not produced in Liechtenstein, the primary concern with this market is its potential to use Liechtenstein’s offshore financial services sector to launder drug money.

    Cannabis is the most consumed drug in Liechtenstein and its popularity is highest among youths. Most cannabis convictions are for personal consumption and only a few cases involve trafficking. Online cannabis purchases are becoming the most common way to purchase the drug and the market is fuelled by domestic demand. There has been an increase in cannabis consumption in recent years, which is reported to be caused, at least in part, by the COVID-19 pandemic. The market for synthetic drugs is also not well-established and their use is not widespread in Liechtenstein, while the perceived availability of these drugs is similar to European averages.

    Cyber Crimes

    Cyber-dependent crimes are prevalent in the country with almost half of Liechtenstein’s companies and institutions, including universities and crypto exchange platforms having been the target of cyber-attacks in the past. These attacks mostly include ransomware, trojan horses and other forms of malware.

    Financial Crimes

    Liechtenstein has a history of facilitating tax evasion, although efforts have been made in this area in recent years. Even though this criminal market is not believed to be highly organized, its extent and impact on Liechtenstein’s society remains significant and an increase in the number of frauds and financial crimes has been observed in the last two years.

    Criminal Actors

    Insofar as organized criminal actors exist in the microstate, they are usually foreign criminals. The country’s reputation as a haven for banking secrecy and tax evasion attracts foreign actors who exploit the principality’s financial laws. Due to its proximity to Austria and Switzerland, the Italian mafia-style syndicate ’Ndrangheta and other transnational criminal groups are likely to exist in Liechtenstein. Private sector actors are also known to be involved in certain criminal activities, especially in tax evasion. Moreover, local Liechtenstein law firms are also suspected to be involved in these schemes. Nevertheless, violence levels have reached a record low in recent years, and there is no evidence of mafia-style groups or criminal networks operating in Liechtenstein. Likewise, there is no concrete evidence to suggest that state-embedded actors facilitate or engage in crime. The democratic process is free from any external and criminal influence.

    Leadership and governance

    Although organized crime is not a significant issue in Liechtenstein, the government has taken a strong stance against it, given that its geographic location in the heart of Europe and its reputation as a tax haven could make it attractive to foreign criminal actors. Liechtenstein is largely free of corruption at all levels of the state. The government publishes budgets, procurement contracts and other relevant information. Despite this, however, the country’s legal framework for providing access to information is extremely poor. The country has many preventative and educational measures in place to combat corruption, which appear to be effective. The principality has made enormous strides in terms of transparency and genuine banking reform, such as reducing banking secrecy.

    Liechtenstein actively participates in international cooperation efforts with the UN and Europol against organized crime and is committed to furthering international justice and law. It is involved in intelligence sharing treaties and extradition agreements, and participates internationally in efforts to prevent crime. The country not only has laws in place to prosecute organized crime but also to prevent membership of criminal networks. However, in many respects, the country has been pressured into greater international cooperation. National legislation to combat organized crime is appropriately focused on money laundering, given that it is a country that attracts legal and illegal business from all over the world. Switzerland and Liechtenstein recently concluded a customs union treaty to form a common customs area. For this reason, a great number of Swiss laws are also applicable in Liechtenstein.

    Criminal justice and security

    Liechtenstein’s judicial system is efficient and transparent, and courts can effectively investigate and prosecute criminal cases. It has only one prison, which is well equipped and meets international standards. However, due to the lack of capacity, individuals with sentences of more than two years carry out their terms in Austrian prisons.

    The Liechtenstein national police is the country’s only police force and it has many law enforcement units specifically focused on corruption and money laundering. Notably, INTERPOL has a National Central Bureau in Vaduz, which, due to the high number of international criminal cases, gives it a key role in safeguarding national and regional security. Law enforcement agencies actively cooperate with international intelligence-sharing mechanisms.

    Despite its potentially strategic position in Europe for criminal networks, Liechtenstein has robust territorial integrity. It cooperates well with Austria and Switzerland on border control and this makes its borders resilient. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Liechtenstein’s borders became less porous, as was the case across the Schengen zone. Apart from this temporary change, however, no relevant changes to territorial integrity in relation to transnational organized crime have occurred since 2021.

    Economic and financial environment

    As Liechtenstein is a leading offshore tax haven and has a reputation for tight bank secrecy laws, money laundering is a major concern for the government, which has made efforts to increase banking transparency. The country has a special analytics unit to detect money laundering, in addition to its participation in European anti-money laundering measures. The close relationships between these authorities mean that problems are managed effectively, although financial secrecy does have an impact on the exchange of information. Liechtenstein faced international pressure to improve its banking transparency in the past and has since enacted anti-money laundering measures focused on banks, investment firms and businesses such as casinos and insurance companies. The country recently passed a law targeting professionals subject to due diligence, obliging them to report any suspicious cases of corruption or money laundering to the financial intelligence unit. Moreover, Liechtenstein recently launched the Finance Against Slavery and Trafficking, a multi-stakeholder project aiming to undermine the capture and abuse of global financial flows by organized crime actors. It has also signed tax information exchange agreements with countries such as the US. All these recent efforts led to better results in the evaluations of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (better known as MONEYVAL). That said, there are indications that Liechtenstein is still an important tax shelter and haven for the proceeds of illegal activities.

    Alongside its low tax rates, Liechtenstein is an easy place to establish new businesses and its economy attracts a lot of business and investment. The business environment offers opportunities for legitimate businesses to expand, as economic regulations are not restrictive. Although this also attracts unwanted interest from criminals, Liechtenstein’s financial controls help to offset this. The government has a balancing act in easing the settlement process for financial services, while also intensifying the state’s security controls.

    Civil society and social protection

    The government of Liechtenstein has put legislation and training mechanisms in place to provide effective treatment for victims of all types of crime, with a particular emphasis on sex-related crimes. The criminal procedural code enshrines victim and witness protection, and the government is very engaged in programmes to support drug users.

    Liechtenstein believes strongly in prevention and has many strategies in place to this end, including early education campaigns and drug-use prevention programmes. The government also created a working group to prevent corruption and the Protege working group, which educates and trains public officials and local authorities. Furthermore, any private person can report corruption directly to the anti-corruption police unit via a dedicated hotline. These measures are effective.

    Because of the lack of organized crime groups in Liechtenstein and the government’s success in prevention, civil society groups are not particularly focused on crime prevention. As for the media environment, free speech is protected and there is no evidence of attacks on journalists by the state or criminal groups. However, the two main media groups are owned by the two leading political parties and the only TV and radio channels are state-owned. There is an absence of financial aid provided by the state to ensure quality media, which causes concern given the media’s declining importance among citizens.

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    The criminal markets score is represented by the pyramid base size and the criminal actors score is represented by the pyramid height, on a scale ranging from 1 to 10. The resilience score is represented by the panel height, which can be identified by the side of the panel.

    How to measure organized crime?

    A series of 13 discussion papers, one for each illicit market considered during the development of the Index.

    Read more on globalinitiative.net
    How to measure organized crime?

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    This report was funded in part by a grant from the United States Department of State.

    ENACT is funded by the European Union and implemented by the Institute for Security Studies and INTERPOL, in affiliation with the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime.

    The opinions, findings and conclusions stated herein are those of the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State.