HMRC pays criminal for 'tax dodger' discs
CDs lost in the post? Buy some stolen ones...
Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is paying a German crook a reward for allegedly stolen information about bank accounts in Liechtenstein. The information is believed to relate to 100 people who between them owe the UK tax authorities more than £100m.
The tiny princedom is much loved by tax dodgers for its refusal to sign up to international finance treaties - The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development named Liechtenstein as an "uncooperative tax haven" last year.
The Revenue has paid in the region of £100,000 for a set of discs with details of various Liechtenstein account holders. The Revenue has not confirmed who it paid, but it has been widely reported to be a whistleblower who used to work for a Liechtenstein bank.
But the deal has raised disquiet about the methods the Revenue is now prepared to use to catch suspected fraudsters.
One such concern would be that if any of the alleged evaders took their case to court HMRC would have trouble getting its dodgy dossier accepted as evidence by a British court. But lawyers seem to believe the Revenue is exempt from such considerations. The Inland Revenue is also protected from Data Protection laws when it is investigating fraud.
HMRC acting chairman Dave Hartnett said: "Most people under investigation have substantial amounts to pay with at least £100m tax at risk in the UK. HMRC is determined to protect the UK's tax base from evasion and in doing so we will use all the statutory powers we have. It should now be clear to everyone that there is no safe hiding place for the proceeds of tax evasion.
"Those who have hidden income and gains should make a prompt and complete disclosure to HMRC. And in the light of recent developments involving Liechtenstein bank accounts, there needs to be a significant move towards full implementation of OECD standards on transparency and effective exchange of information in tax matters."
It has been reported that the Revenue was offered the information two years ago, but turned it down.
German authorities paid more than £3m for similar information which led them to 750 German citizens with secret accounts in the principality.
It also emerged today that German intelligence is prepared to share the information with other nations. Finland, Norway, and Sweden are believed to have already expressed an interest. ®
I did actually drive there once, it's uphill from Switzerland, but when I got to the top , near the post office(*) and the pub(*), I found it was raining. (*) Liechtenstein as well as banking makes money from Philately and Beer, as I visited on a Sunday I think the pub was shut. Avoid Vaduz in the rain on a Sunday.
The informant, in this case, we'll call him codename "Heinrich Kieber" allegedly became upset by seeing large amounts of cash swilling around the bank, so emailed for a few months the German Secret Police saying that he wished to give some free information! He did not want paying for the data DVD's. Possibly the BND forced him to accept €4.2M. if he'd used HD-DVD's.....
Also allegedly codename "Heinrich Kieber" many years ago ran a property swindle in Spain, netting €600K , which he later had to pay to Argentinean kidnappers who held him the jungle for months as ransom, his bank refusing to help release an employee.
When I lived in Geneva it was the DGSE (French Secret Service) who had agents stationed outside most banks in the Helvetic Confederation, all French citizens entering a bank were biometrically analysed and soon processed to the point of becoming a tax-payer again! Germany is just doing a bit of catching-up!
by the way, the Swiss (nice people) take their financial non-disclosure laws EXTREMELY seriously if not PREJEDICIOUSLY seriously. message will TERMINATE.
Pure as the Driven Snow......
Nice to know that HMRC themselves have placed their own property - offices and buildings - in a non-tax-paying company, Mapely Steps, set up in a tax haven in the Caribbean.
Mapely's head office operates through a tax-efficient offshore structure based in the tax-haven Channel Island of Guernsey.
Remember this when you laud the HMRC's efforts to catch tax-dodgers.
Keywords: Tax-efficient; non-tax-paying; tax-haven; set a thief to catch a thief.
Perhaps the problem is not that people don't think that they shouldn't pay tax, but that there's a growing feeling that tax is not being collected fairly or spent reasonably.
Everyone is in favour of taxes that pay for a decent health and police service, but one gets the feeling that taxes are someting collected by a greedy bunch of incompetent muckwits and passed to another bunch of dittos to piss away. We've seen the taxes go up, but the improved services we thought we were getting don't seem to have happened.
Until the sentiment that the tax department is unfair, complicated and incompetent has been dispelled, there will be those who see no reason to give the government more money to waste. Watching Her Majesty's Revenue conspire with criminals to steal data does not exactly help to inspire confidence. Is tax collection is a game in which the biggest crook wins? If so, it's a game anyone can play.