The Government is set to expand its probe into allegations of mass tax dodging through HSBC’s Swiss private banking arm.
Speaking to MPs at the Public Affairs Committee yesterday, HMRC director of enforcement Jennie Grainger said the tax office will meet with enforcement bodies imminently to discuss the issue of alleged tax evasion.
Files containing a list of 7,000 potential UK tax avoiders were handed to British authorities by the French in 2010, with the Revenue subsequently identifying 1,100 people who had not paid their taxes.
“We will call together the relevant authorities and, in fact, we will be meeting with them later this week to share with them what we already have once we have formally confirmed with the French exactly what we have,” Grainger said.
HMRC chief executive Lin Homer also conceded regrets over a lack of prosecutions forthe alleged tax evasion by customers and their aiding by HSBC.
Homer said HMRC had initially hoped as many as 150 of the original list of 1,100 UK residents passed to the taxman could face prosecution.
After completing investigations, just three cases were passed to the Crown Prosecution Service, with a single individual later prosecuted.
“It is very difficult to prosecute for offshore,” Grainger explained. “One of the challenges, and particularly in a situation where you have stolen data, which is what this is, is that you have to prove those facts another way in order for the CPS to be able to take it aboard.
Homer added: “We would have liked to have seen more prosecutions if we could have met the [CPS] threshold.”