There are a number of interesting facts and figures emanating from the various offshore leaks of recent times. One of them involves Britain’s tax office HMRC, where there is a history of double dealing when it comes to tax haven transparency.
Last February HSBC’s Swiss banking arm got caught ‘red-handed’ assisting wealthy customers concealing millions of dollars of assets and then literally and quite unbelievably found to be handing out bricks of untraceable currency to them. HSBC was, at the same time providing these clients the facilities and information needed to circumvent domestic tax authorities, according to a huge cache of leaked secret bank account files.
The leak clearly demonstrated that HSBC was providing account facilities to international criminals, corrupt businessmen and other high-risk individuals from all over the world, Britain included.
The leaked HSBC files, which covered the period 2005-2007, amounted, at the time, to the biggest banking leak in history, shining a very bright light on about 30,000 accounts holding almost $120bn (£78bn) of assets, an average of £2.6 million per account. After the files had been thoroughly checked out, the number of accounts held escalated to 130,000 individuals and organisations.
The revelations amplified calls for government’s the world over to take action and crackdown on offshore illegal tax havens. Politicians got on the bandwagon in an attempt to demonstrate they were on the side of law abiding citizens. Britain’s tax office recently issued a statement straight after the Panama papers scandal “HMRC is committed to exposing and acting on financial wrongdoing and we relentlessly pursue tax evaders to ensure that they pay every penny of taxes and fines they owe“.
The hypocrisy of politicians across Europe and America and HMRC in Britain demonstrates the level of lawlessness both are prepared to accept in every day life.
This is demonstrated best by the reactions of authorities when it came to the leak itself