800 HSBC clients told to pay up for Swiss tax dodge
Robert Watts. Sunday Times. London (UK): Sep 4, 2011. pg. 1
NEARLY 800 wealthy British clients at HSBC are being investigated by
the taxman for "serious tax fraud" after stashing money in Swiss bank
Thousands more of HSBC's customers face having their personal tax
affairs probed unless they come forward soon, as HM Revenue & Customs
combs the records of 7,000 customers that were stolen by a former
member of the bank's Swiss staff.
Accountants acting for those already under investigation by HMRC say
those embroiled include celebrities and prominent figures in the City.
"We are talking about household names here," said one accountant. HMRC
has sent letters announcing the launch of an investigation to almost
800 of the bank's clients in recent months.
"You are suspected of serious tax fraud," the letter reads. "We will
undertake an investigation into your personal tax affairs. We will
also undertake an investigation of the tax affairs of any company or
other entity that may have an impact on your personal tax affairs."
A senior source at HMRC said it expects to raise hundreds of millions
of pounds for the exchequer from these investigations.
The names and account details were garnered from the "Falciani List",
records pilfered by disgruntled former IT worker Herve Falciani.
None of the individuals affected will be able to make use of the
recent deal struck between the British government and the Swiss
authorities. Under the pact, people with assets hidden in Swiss bank
accounts will be landed with a one-off tax bill to settle their
arrears, plus a withholding tax from 2013 onwards. HMRC is conducting
the investigation under "Code of Practice 9" -- a probe of an
individual's financial affairs over the past 20 years. Those found
guilty of tax evasion face paying any due tax, plus interest. They
will also incur a penalty of up to 200% of the outstanding tax.
Fiona Fernie, tax investigation partner at BDO, the accountancy firm,
said: "I strongly advise any HSBC customers who believe they could be
on this list, but have not yet received one of these letters, to
approach the Revenue and make a disclosure straight away."
"HSBC does not condone tax evasion and seeks to comply
with the letter and spirit of the law in all the countries and
territories in which it operates."
Credit: Robert Watts Economics Correspondent
Caption: An invitation you can't refuse
- posted 8 years ago