France has cast doubt on claims by a Conservative minister and tax office boss Lin Homer that the UK was refused permission to use the leaked HSBC files to pursue financial criminals through the courts.
When challenged about the British government’s failure to take action against the bank or criminal clients, Homer told parliament the UK’s hands were tied by treaties with France, which restricted use of the HSBC data to pursuing tax evaders.
She said HMRC had only been given permission by the French on Monday to take on more serious cases such as money laundering. Her claims were repeated by the Tory Treasury minister David Gauke to the Commons on Monday.
But France’s finance minister Michel Sapin has rejected the British version of events.
If that is true and if it transpires HMRC never sought to check for five years then I think it has to be game over for Lin Homer.
You can't mislead parliament like that and hope to survive.
There has to be a chance for clarification, of course, but the need for facts to be laid on the table has come and if Homer's story does not stack then it will be resignation time.