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Is/was HSBC the only bank doing this?

The BBC’s Panorama programme later tonight (9 February 2015) is among numerous media that are focusing on revelations that HSBC, Britain’s largest bank, helped many people deprive the UK of tens of millions of pounds/dollars in tax.

But is — ok, was — HSBC the only bank doing this? This is among numerous other questions that, according to analysts interviewed by The Middle East in Europe, remain unanswered.

helped wealthy clients cheat the UK out of millions of pounds in tax.””Panorama has seen thousands of accounts from HSBC’s private bank in Switzerland leaked by a whistleblower in 2007,” Bilton wrote. “They show bankers helped clients evade tax and offered deals to help tax dodgers stay ahead of the law.”HSBC admitted, the BBC said, that some individuals took advantage of bank secrecy to hold undeclared accounts. But it said it has now “fundamentally changed”, according to the BBC.The documents, stolen in 2007 by computer expert Herve Falciani working for HSBC in Geneva, contain details of more than 100,000 clients from around the world, the public broadcaster siad.Offshore accounts are not illegal, but many people use them to hide cash from the tax authorities, the BBC points out. And while tax avoidance is perfectly legal in the UK, deliberately hiding money to evade tax is not.In 2013 the French authorities assessed the stolen data and concluded that 99.8% of their citizens on the list were probably evading tax.Remarkable in this week’s revelations is the fact that it has taken so long, since Falciani’s whistle-blower action in 2007, for the facts to be pulled together in a publishable format after they were evidently assessed by the legal teams of the media involved to avoid litigation.

The leaked documents initially went to  Le Monde and thereafter spawned a joint investigation involving the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the BBC and more than 50 other media outlets around the world.The documents include details of almost 7,000 British clients, the BBC said. Although the UK HMRC was given the documents in 2010 it managed to secure only one tax evasion prosecution, according to the BBC.

British parliamentarian Margaret Hodge, who heads a public accounts committee in the UK parliament, said, “I just don’t think the tax authorities have been strong enough, assertive enough, brave enough, tough enough in securing for the British taxpayer the monies that are due.”

Analysts interviewed by The Middle East in Europe, who requested anonymity, say that a lot more ground needs to be covered to investigate other banks’ conduct in terms of wide-ranging tax dodging schemes operated by financial institutions worldwide.

HSBC was founded in London in 1991 by the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation to act as a new group holding company. As the origins of the bank lie in Hong Kong and Shanghai, where branches were first opened in 1865, the bank’s name is derived from the initials of the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation.

Panorama: The Bank of Tax Cheats, 20.30 GMT, 9 February 2015, BBC1.

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Author: Editor

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