City AM reports this morning:
THE taxman is investigating the affairs of around 800 wealthy British HSBC clients who held money in Swiss bank accounts after their names appeared on a leaked computer disc.
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) could raise hundreds of millions of pounds from the probes, which were launched after the details of 7,000 British clients were passed to the UK, but a spokesman declined to comment on the figures involved.
A series of household names from Britain feature on the list, which includes high-earning UK citizens holding chunks of their wealth offshore, it is believed. HMRC yesterday confirmed it had received the information and intends to act upon it.
No doubt this is the result of an HMRC press office story placement - becasue that's the sort of thing they do.
And it's sickening. Because under the UK - Swiss tax deal HMRC boss Dave Hartnett has agreed three things with the Swiss:
1) We can no longer use data of this sort
2) We can't buy data like this again
3) We won't prosecute Swiss bankers for assisting tax evasion of this sort in future.
The question does, of course, arise as to whether HMRC's agreement not to investigate crime is itself legal - and I suspect very strongly it is not.
But that's not the point right now. What this data proves is that we can secure data on UK criminals from Switzerland. And in future we'll be choosing not to do so. And nor will we prosecute those who handled their stolen property. How terribly convenient for all concerned.
Thank you Dave Hartnett.