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Restrictions lifted on leaked HSBC data

03 March 2015
Issue: 4491 / Categories: News , Admin , Compliance , Investigations

France gives okay to information-share with agencies outside HMRC

France’s tax authorities have formally agreed that HMRC can share leaked HSBC Suisse customer account data with law enforcement agencies and financial regulators for the purposes of pursuing criminal offences.

The Revenue received the information from the French in April 2010 under strict international treaty conditions, which limited its use to tax purposes and prevented the department from sharing it with other parties to investigate offences outside of tax.

HMRC’s chief executive, Lin Homer, told a Treasury select committee hearing that French officials gave written confirmation on 23 February that they would lift restrictions on the use and sharing of the leaked details, following several requests from the UK tax authority dating back to August 2010.

The department plans to discuss how the HSBC data can be shared with the Serious Fraud Office, the Financial Conduct Authority, the Crown Prosecution Service, City of London Police, the National Crime Agency and the EU’s EuroJust agency.

Tax investigations expert John Cassidy said, “HMRC have already made much use of the bank data to encourage clearance of past tax problems. Given the media interest generated in the past few weeks, it is not surprising that other law enforcement bodies and jurisdictions are now collaborating to see what use can be made of the data.

“The big message for anyone who has not sorted out their tax is that they should act before they are challenged by the Revenue or another government body, remembering there is still a year left of the Liechtenstein disclosure facility, which is perfectly written for these circumstances,” added Cassidy, a partner at Crowe Clark Whitehill accountants.

In related news, the chancellor, George Osborne, said the allegations about tax evasion at HSBC have been the subject of extensive investigation by HMRC, adding that the department and the Director of Public Prosecutions will receive further resources to carry out further work on the matter if necessary.

Osborne confirmed during a Commons exchange concerning the leaked files that Treasury officials are considering a system of penalties on organisations that facilitate evasion.

Issue: 4491 / Categories: News , Admin , Compliance , Investigations
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