UK tax authority to expand investigation into HSBC Swiss tax accounts

12 Feb 2015


The HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will expand the scope of its investigation into Swiss tax accounts held with HSBC and meet with the police and the Serious Fraud Office officials later in the week, BBC reported.

According to the BBC's business editor, Kamal Ahmed, the move to involve other law enforcement agencies represented a serious escalation of the matter.

Tax officials had earlier been accused by MPs of not dealing with the matter adequately.

The tax authority's top officials were shouted at by angry MP's over lack of urgency in handling of the HSBC tax-dodging scandal.

Lin Homer, HMRC chief executive was accused of a "pathetic response'' by Margaret Hodge, chair of the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, even as she denied inaction against UK citizens hiding money in HSBC accounts in Geneva.

Denying that it was "absolutely not the case" that she was failing the UK taxpayer, Homer explained only individuals whose hidden accounts in Switzerland had been revealed had been prosecuted.

She added that the bulk of the information leaked via the French authorities in 2010, involving around 3,600 UK individuals, was incomplete or "dirty" data.

Meanwhile, The Independent reported that around 170 customers with Jersey-based HSBC accounts would be required to pay £20 million by UK tax authorities.

According to Hodge, the second data leak from the bank – coupled with the larger one from Switzerland – in 2012 indicated that its use to duck tax could be ''endemic''.

The cash demands come following a storm of controversy over the widespread use of the bank's Swiss arm for alleged tax avoidance, and potentially evasion.

The Jersey leak which came to light in 2012, had triggered an HMRC investigation.

HSBC at the time operated three separate units on the island including a retail bank dealing with the day-to-day banking needs of Jersey's citizens; HSBC International, looking after expat UK citizens; and HSBC Private Bank Jersey.

According to a former member of staff who spoke to The Independent, there were ''skeletons in the closet'' dating from before the financial crisis.

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