Another interesting tax bit

Another wide-ranging treaty with Switzerland to encourage all Britons to come clean, which came into force in 2013, also proved a failure. The Swiss ​Bankers’ ​Association said: “This is mainly due to the fact that many clients have resident non-domiciled status. These clients are not liable to taxation in the UK and thus do not fall under the agreement.”.One great advantage for Britain’s non-doms is that, when ticking the box on their tax form, they are not required to disclose the existence of any Swiss accounts, though any income brought into Britain does become liable to domestic tax.

People paying every penny of tax due is not really a failure now, is it?

Oh dear Ed

Mr Miliband said: “Let’s take Stanley Fink who gave £3 million to the Conservative Party.

“He actually appointed him as Treasurer of the Tory Party and gave him a peerage for good measure. So now can he explain what steps he is going to take to find out about the tax avoidance activities of Lord Fink?

Lord Fink – who was chief executive of the hedge fund Man Group from 2000 to 2007 – is estimated to have donated £20million to charities over the past two decades.

But in a letter to Mr Miliband, he said the claims were “untrue and defamatory”, saying: “These are the facts: I was posted by the Man Group to run their office in Switzerland for four years from 1996 until 2000.

“During this time I had need of a local bank account to do simple things like receive my Swiss Franc salary and pay grocery bills.

“As I already banked with HSBC in London, I set up an account with HSBC. I subsequently set up an account with Credit Suisse as they had a branch much closer to my home and office.

“I submitted tax returns in both Switzerland and Britain showing my revised tax status, which was accepted by the Inland Revenue.

“I find it extraordinary that you have made claims against me that are without foundation or without contacting me.

“I challenge you to repeat your allegation outside the House of Commons – or to withdraw it publically.”

This is also interesting

In two thirds of the HSBC accounts, no tax was due, probably because of the fact that the account holders were not domiciled in the UK for tax purposes.

This is quite lovely from Ritchie

So, just as Antoine Deltour is now being prosecuted in Luxembourg at the behest of PWC so is the HSBC whistleblower having to live a life under threat.

If there’s a lesson that comes out of this it is that a person revealing tax abuse has to be offered immunity from prosecution in international law. Justice demands it. In these cases, quite literally tax justice demands it.

Apparently we should tell the Swiss what their policy should be over prosecuting people who break Swiss law. But they shouldn’t be able to tell us anything about whether we prosecute people for tax evasion. How colonial.

BTW, is there any prosecution of this guy in international law? No? Then he’s immune from it, isn’t he?

Oh dear Ritchie, oh dear

Let me ask a question then that needs to be asked. Where were the auditors? It is true that auditors are not meant to detect and prevent all fraud. They are meant to identify material risk to the business. A potentially fraudulent business model, which is the nub of the HSBC accusations, is however well within the range of risks that I think any auditor should have identified.

Umm, what fraud? Are HSBC being prosecuted? No?

Then what fraud took place?

Yes, tax dodging took place, tax evasion even. But that’s not the same as fraud you see.

If you’re going to pronounce on the law you should try to get it right.

My god this is fantastic

A Belgian rugby team racked up a cricket score and then some after a referee’s late arrival caused chaos for the opposition with Royal Kituro running out 356-3 winners against Soignies in the country’s top division.

Royal Kituro racked up no less than 56 tries – 38 of which were converted – while Soignies managed a solitary drop goal in what must be one of the most one-sided contests on record.

Soignies’s problems started early and when the referee failed to turn up on time a number of players got back on the team bus, assuming the match was off.

The official finally arrived however – more than an hour late – and the 16 remaining Soignies players needed to contest the match to secure the losing point on offer rather than forfeit and come away with nothing.

The video footage available suggests Soignies’ hearts were not really in it while a Kituro spokeswoman said their opposition “didn’t really play”.

The best bit?

The Soignies president, Guy Calomme, was brutal in assessment, describing the result as catastrophic but the efforts of the 16 brave souls was not for nothing – they remain in third place, one point above Kituro, albeit with a points difference of minus 264.

And that bloke who scored the drop goal? Almost worth going all the way to Belgium just to shake his hand and buy him a drink. No, really, respect for even bothering to try and score.

Just what law has HSBC broken?

Serious question here:

The UK has taken no legal action against the bank despite the evidence in the leaked files of wrongdoing, and only one individual has faced prosecution.

Is it against the law for the Swiss subsidiary of a British bank to do things that are legal under Swiss law?

If so, which law?

As to this:

France has recovered £188m in taxes and fines from a list of 3,000 clients and Spain has recovered £220m, also from 3,000 clients. The UK, by contrast, has recovered just £135m from a list of 6,000 clients in a series of secret deals that kept names out of the public domain.

We have non-doms, other countries don’t in quite the same manner. So, you’d expect rather more of “ours” to not be tax evaders.


The Guardian / BBC story of alleged tax evasion at HSBC between 2005 and 2007 covers old ground for some of us who have been around the tax haven scene for some time. But, five years after i first covered the story there are still questions to ask.

First, why has HSBC survived all the scandals surrounding it with a banking licence?

Well, because we’ve just spent some trillions propping up the banking system. And we rather think that trashing one of the largest banks in the world after doing that might be a bad idea.

Second, why has no one been prosecuted in HSBC in the UK as yet?

Perhaps because no one has been identified in the UK as having broken UK law. That bankers in Switzerland do things which are legal in Switzerland is not, as yet, a breach of UK law.

Third, why was Stephen Green allowed to be made a peer and a minister and why was he not made to resign as they HSBC scandals (for there have been many) unfolded?

There is no mechanism to force a peer to resign.

Sixth, why has so little money been recovered?

Possibly because not much was actually evaded and thus not much is owed?

Can Ritchie read?

Provided that a relevant person agrees either to make a one-off payment in accordance with Article 9 of this Agreement or to make a voluntary disclosure in relation to his/her relevant assets in accordance with Article 10 of this Agreement and fully cooperates with HMRC, that person is highly unlikely to be subject to a criminal investigation by HMRC for a tax-related offence for past liabilities in respect of relevant assets from the date he or she irrevocably opted for one of the options, unless either his/her relevant assets represent the proceeds of crime (other than crime connected to a tax-related offence) or represent the proceeds of crime connected to criminal tax-related offences punishable by two years or more imprisonment.

Right, that’s from HMRC. Cough up your tax evasion and we’ll not prosecute. Except, of course, if it’s all based on criminal enterprise or offences in the first place.

So, at the same time as it was being decided it was worthwhile pursuing very large numbers of people for benefits related issues, including non-payment, through the UK court system it was decided that it was not a good use of that system to pursue wealthy people and their professional advisers for proven, deliberate, large scale criminal acts of theft.

And that’s Ritchie. But theft is a criminal act for which you would be prosecuted. Therefore they’re not not prosecuting people for the criminal act of theft. They’ve actually laid out that they would prosecute for that.

Now Ritchie may want to say that not paying your taxes is an act of theft. But the law doesn’t agree. Which is why HMRC is making the distinction, see?

Ritchie, please, get a grip

This leaves questions unanswered.

First, as Margaret Hodge has confirmed this morning, HMRC when giving evidence to her committee not so long ago said they had contacted just one in six people on the Lagarde list of those who were UK resident but had funds in HSBC Switzerland. How can HMRC be sure then that all tax, interest and penalties have been paid? That seems to be impossible to me.

Second, why has so little money been collected? It was thought those involved had many billions in their accounts. This needs explanation.

Because not all people who are resident in the UK owe tax on money they have in Switzerland you fool! It’s exactly the same as the mistake you (and Richard Brooks, TJN etc) made about Osborne’s deal with the Swiss banks as a whole. People who are UK resident but non-dom can entirely legally have Swiss accounts upon which they do not pay UK tax. And as that Swiss bank deal with Osborne made clear, that’s what a lot of those Swiss bank accounts actually are. Non-doms who do not owe UK tax on their Swiss holdings.


HSBC and Swiss banking

We’re going to see the usual conflation of numbers here:

At its height, HSBC’s secretive Swiss arm hid a total of $120bn (£78bn) in assets.

Yep, the bank had £120 billion in assets (umm, actually, from the bank’s point of view, liabilities).

Yep, the bank aided in tax dodging, to put it mildly (although it mostly seems to have obeyed Swiss law, which is the law it needs to obey).

So, obviously, everyone is going to start shouting that tax was avoided in £120 billion.

Which ain’t true at all. Bonus points to the first person to spot that £120 billion claim in the wild.

Here’s an idiot idea

I might have mentioned this before. But gas flaring. Obviously, a waste of good energy. But often done when gas co-produced with oil is in small volume. Or there’s gas fields out there that are viable in the sense of drilling them but not in the sense of hooking them up to any pipeline nor LNG etc. So, it’s viable to produce but not to transport and thus, in the end, not viable.

On the other hand the production of fertiliser requires natural gas and air. And, of course, a machine. And it’s normally true in the chemicals industry that bigger is better. The wider the pipes (as I understand it) the more efficient the whole factory.

Hmm, so at what point is that crossover? Or alternatively, how small can you make a fertiliser factory to take advantage of free gas and still make a profit despite lower efficiency?

Does anyone know?

I’m pretty sure I have asked this before and the answer was, well, big companies don’t care (as I recall the answer at least) rather than a technical answer.

This is true

People in their 60s are no longer old and are enjoying a golden age of health as rates of serious illness have nearly halved in a decade, official figures in a new report show.

But we in our 50s already know that the young ladies haven’t got the news as yet.

It’s really quite amazing the young age at which you become invisible to a certain section of the population.

Yep, I fully agree with this

Nationalist politicians in Scotland and Wales are threatening to stop English voters forcing Britain to leave the European Union after a referendum.

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood said that each individual nation in the UK should have its own separate vote on whether Britain should stay in the EU if there were a referendum.

If one of the nations voted against – then Britain would have to stay in the EU, she said.

This would the case even if voters in England – which is far larger than Scotland of Wales by population – voted by a majority to leave.

Miss Woods’ intervention mean the Celtic members of the UK are demanding an effective veto on ‘Brexit’, the term describing Britain leaving the EU.

No problem
at all with this idea. Except this idea does apply to everything. If you Celts want to elect idiots in red rosettes then that’s fine. But those votes don’t count as to who gets to rule England. You can vote for whatever level of taxation or public subsidy you like: but it doesn’t apply to England nor does England’s money get sent to you for you to spend.

In short, if you want to claim the rights of independence then off you go, be independent.