Banks say they’ll stop avoiding – but actions speak louder than words

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Bloomberg reports:

The 15 biggest banks operating in the U.K. have adopted a government code of practice on reducing tax avoidance, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said.

The code, which until October had only been supported by four of the 15, requires the banks to “follow the spirit of the law in addition to the letter” on tax and to work with the government “to encourage mutually open and transparent relationships.”

“All the top 15 banks have now signed the code,” Clegg told lawmakers in Parliament today.

The 15 banks are Bank of America Corp., Barclays Plc, Citigroup Inc., Credit Suisse Group AG, Deutsche Bank AG, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., HSBC Holdings Plc, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Lloyds Banking Group Plc, Morgan Stanley, Nationwide Building Society, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, Banco Santander SA, Standard Chartered Plc and UBS AG.

So, fine words have had signatures attached. What I want to know (for now) is:

  1. When these banks will stop selling tax driven products;
  2. When they will close their offices in locations which can have no justification for their presence but tax e.g. BVI;
  3. When they will start country-by-country reporting so we know what they pay, where;
  4. When these banks will lose the use of their tax losses, all of which have already been paid for by the taxpayer;
  5. When they will stop using tax avoidance schemes to pay their staff;
  6. When they are closing their private banking operations;
  7. When they close their tax driven products divisions such as Barclays Capital.

Then I’ll take this seriously.