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Banks aiding tax evasion could face fines



Banks and other companies that are helping clients to evade taxes could face fines in the future. Reports suggest that chancellor George Osborne will use next month’s Budget to target tax evasion.

The comments come after HSBC’s Swiss arm has been accused of helping wealthy clients avoid paying taxes. Leaked bank account files, obtained through an international collaboration of media outlets show bankers helping clients evade tax and offering deals to help tax dodgers stay ahead of the law.

During a House of Commons debate, shadow chancellor Ed Balls accused Osborne of failing to act to the HSBC scandal. However, the chancellor suggests that bankers and accountants could face new financial and civil penalties for the role is tax avoidance in the future.

In response Osborne said, “Some very serious allegations have been about HSBC Swiss and its role in knowingly advising people on tax evasion. Of course this is a matter that our criminal authorities, prosecuting authorities will want to look into.

“We are currently in active discussion which I think will come to a fruitful end to get the French to allow us to pass some of this information on to the Serious Fraud Office and other prosecuting authorise to address the concern […] about the potential or alleged role of banks in this affair.”

He also argued that the HSBC scandal first came to light under the previous Labour government, in which Balls served as a Treasury adviser and as a Cabinet minister.

According to the Independent, Balls said that Osborne’s “bluster cannot hide his total failure to answer questions over the HSBC scandal”.

Photo: julian mason via Flickr

Further reading:

HSBC Swiss bank helped clients dodge taxes

New Fair Tax Mark highlights responsible businesses

HMRC doubles tax evasion prosecution rate by targeting middle class

Responsible investment can help crack down on tax avoidance

HMRC ‘lost its nerve’ over corporate tax evasion, MPs say


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