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.

11 thoughts on “HSBC and Swiss banking”

  1. At the very least they will assume the billions in those accounts were wholly untaxed and undeclared when that appears to not be the case.

    HSBC bank ‘helped clients dodge millions in tax’

    “The documents include details of almost 7,000 British clients – and many of the accounts were not declared to the taxman.,

    HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) was given the leaked data in 2010 and has identified 1,100 people who had not paid their taxes. But almost five years later, only one tax evader has been prosecuted.”

  2. Interesting that the French claim that 99% of French citizens used their Swiss HSBC accounts to evade tax. I’d hav ethought that the majority of UK citizens using Swiss bank accounts were just genuinely international people not tax resident in any one particular country for business purposes.

    Whoever the cry will go up from the usual suspects that there is no legitimate reason to have an offshore bank account and that therefore all these funds are avoiding or evading tax.

  3. Interesting that the French claim that 99% of French citizens used their Swiss HSBC accounts to evade tax.

    The French probably think choosing to live over the border in Switzerland constitutes tax evasion.

  4. “The French probably think choosing to live over the border in Switzerland constitutes tax evasion.”

    Currently, though it may change, if you work in CH it is highly advantageous to live in France – you pay a lower rate of income tax than you would in VD, NE or JU. Plus, you get to spend your CHF as EUR, so can benefit from the ridiculous exchange rate.

    What looks likely to change (and they are in the process of changing, although there are apparently legal challenges ongoing) is the removal of the opt-out from the French public health “insurance”, which will cost an extra 8% of salary, making it potentially cheaper to be in CH.

    And I don’t believe for a second that 99% figure – I would reckon that the majority of accounts were French citizens working in CH and living in FR – employers like to pay into a local account. But the banks now charge French cross-border commuters higher fees as a result…

  5. “The HSBC files, which cover the period 2005-2007, amount to the biggest banking leak in history, shedding light on some 30,000 accounts holding almost $120bn (£78bn) of assets.”

    Here at MSN

  6. Currently, though it may change, if you work in CH it is highly advantageous to live in France – you pay a lower rate of income tax than you would in VD, NE or JU. Plus, you get to spend your CHF as EUR, so can benefit from the ridiculous exchange rate.

    Indeed. I was interviewed for a job in Geneva a few months back, and one of the things I found out when investigating was that hundreds of people work in Geneva but live in France, and the cooperation is so good that the Swiss PAYE system makes payments directly to the French tax authority.

    What looks likely to change (and they are in the process of changing, although there are apparently legal challenges ongoing) is the removal of the opt-out from the French public health “insurance”, which will cost an extra 8% of salary, making it potentially cheaper to be in CH.

    That’s interesting…I’m currently trying to work out if I’m entitled to French health insurance, I am paying income tax here but am not sure if I have a social security number. It’s a bit dodgy with us because we’re paid out of Switzerland and our income taxes paid by us personally and reimbursed by the company.

    Officially I work for a Swiss company, assigned temporarily in France. But I’m in the process of buying a place just inside France near the Swiss border, so I take an interest in the Swiss-French laws.

  7. @Tim Newman,

    If you, as a non-French, can opt out and take private health insurance it should remain highly advantageous irrespective of what happens.

    Btw, the Swiss/French PAYE cooperation thing is the State of Geneva rather than the Swiss – in Neuchatel (and I presume the other two border cantons) the French residents are paid net of Swiss social security and pension and they have to declare as normal. Then the French pay the Swiss a proportion back since there’s an IT sharing arrangement for cross-border commuters. Apparently they’re not fast payers………

  8. @magnusw

    That graphic has been doing the rounds for ages – so the £120bn mentioned there is not the £120n HSBC number. They’re just the same by coincidence.

    The fun thing about that graphic, apart from it using a Murphy number, obviously, is that the circles are, significantly, not to scale.

  9. TTG. Apols, yes I realised that and meant to point it out, doesn’t stop the SJWs from conflating that in to the mix as well though, it’s just more ‘evidence’.

    PS Marcus Chown has been known to write for the Graun, natch, so expect to see this nonsense repeated there soon,

  10. I wonder if it will be along the lines of “Richard Murphy said there was £120bn of tax avoided, now we have found $120bn [note the different units], therefore Richard Murphy was right all along, his insight knows no limits, peace be upon him, etc. etc.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *