HSBC Jersey accounts list leaked to HMRC

HMRC is this week studying a list of more than 4,000 people holding accounts with HSBC in Jersey worth nearly £700m, the Daily Telegraph reported.

An HMRC spokesman confirmed that the department had received the data and was studying the list, which was reportedly passed to it by a whistleblower. Around half of those named are said to be UK taxpayers.

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Comments
TaxTeddy's picture

What Now?

TaxTeddy | | Permalink

Well, one thing's for sure - no point moving the money to Switzerland.

New guidance on Swiss tax deal.

George Attazder's picture

Of course...

George Attazder | | Permalink

... it could be a story that HMRC have "leaked" to the press in order to drum up some business for the current disclosure opportunity!

Tipping off

trecar | | Permalink

A convicted gun runner! After this publicity, proceeds of ill gotten gains are then transferred to wherever as long as it is out on the hands of anyone who could be a danger and repatriate the funds. Does this make the 'DT' guilty of a tipping off offence under the MLR?

frustratedwithhmrc's picture

'DT' guilty of a tipping off offence under the MLR

frustratedwithhmrc | | Permalink

trecar wrote:
Does this make the 'DT' guilty of a tipping off offence under the MLR?

 

Unfortunately not, as it's only us plebs in the regulated sector that are subject to these idiotic and arbitrary regulations.

The phone hacking scandal showed that by-and-large the press can get away with most things if they keep the politicians happy.

What was it someone once said "Politics is Hollywood for ugly people".

davidwinch's picture

Tipping off (not)

davidwinch | | Permalink

As 'frustrated' correctly points out, only persons within the 'regulated sector' can be convicted of a tipping-off offence under s333A PoCA 2002 - and newspapers / journalists do not fall within the regulated sector.

However the offence under s342 PoCA 2002 of 'prejudicing an investigation' is more wide-ranging since it can apply equally to those within the 'regulated sector' and those outside it.

It might be a bit of a stretch to get a conviction, but 'on paper' it would not appear to be beyond the bounds of possibility that a journalist could be subject to prosecution under s342.

However I think in practice the authorities would think twice - or thrice - before launching a criminal prosecution of a respected newspaper or journalist for publishing a story about alleged crimes.  It is well understood that journalists have to be very careful about publishing material which might impact on potential jurors in a future trial, but ordinarily those restrictions would not be expected to apply at a time when no arrests have been made (nor do any arrests appear to be imminent).

The point about s342 is that, much like the tipping-off provisions, it is the potential impact on investigations by the authorities (either by alerting suspected offenders or interfering with evidence) that is at the heart of the offence (rather than the impact on potential jurors).  Hopefully the newspaper's legal advisers have s342 in mind when they are advising editors on what it is safe to publish.

David

Tipping off (again)

trecar | | Permalink

The point I was making in my original comment was on the futility of legislating against the possibility of a professional warning someone against illegal behaviour when all and sundry (who do not fall within the legislative compass of MLR) are free to do so. Legislation in this country is now so manifest and complex that what was once legal may now not be. I have always seen part of our job as advising people as to what they may do and what they may not. I do not think it should be part of our remit to be a unit of a stasi type fishing expedition. With regard to deliberate illegal dealings earlier legislation was quite adequate and required us to inform the appropriate authorities. Failure to do so or warn the offending party would render us party to any subsequent behaviour and we could be punished appropriately. The questions should be asked, is this legislation working? and is it's impact sufficient to justify it's existence? One for the Red Tape hit list?

Don't they already have this information

jackyB | | Permalink

I thought under the new disclosure rules all banks with UK branches had to give HMRC details of all offshore accounts held by UK residents. So surely HMRC should have this information anyhow.

HSBC

Shay Daly | | Permalink

Are these idiots in the bank so incompetent that data is leaked without any track on the whistle-blower?Nothing but nothing can fully explain how the Banks seem to be able to cause mayhem amongst their customers at no expense to themselves.

Burden sharing in Banking is 100% innocent customer,idiot bank nil.

The worst part of this is that all the banks are orrectly tarred with the one brush.A plague on all their houses.Fill the pillows!!!!!!The only safe haven??????????

so the story is that there is no story really...

dominovision | | Permalink

jackyB wrote:

I thought under the new disclosure rules all banks with UK branches had to give HMRC details of all offshore accounts held by UK residents. So surely HMRC should have this information anyhow.

 

Yes - that was my understanding too, it was auto-information exchange for account holders with a UK address as the primary address as from 1st July 2011. Big brother is now watching for all those who are unfortunately in the position of being UK resident for tax purposes.

as if HMRC will do anything anyway

The Black Knight | | Permalink

There have been very few prosecutions following any of their amnesties and theft of data issues.

Whilst information obtained in this manner might indicate where to look. Would it be inadmissible in court?

I think the crims have little to worry about.

Has the whistleblower committed an offence? or is crime allowed if carried out on behalf of the government.

Was the daily telegraph leak so that those involved had time to exit the country?

 

frustratedwithhmrc's picture

This is only going to catch out the innocent, naive or stupid

frustratedwithhmrc | | Permalink

dominovision wrote:
Big brother is now watching for all those who are unfortunately in the position of being UK resident for tax purposes.

This was only ever going to catch out the innocent, naive or stupid. Your average criminal with a hefty amount of money to bank will first buy himself a residence in some cheap, but corrupt little country with poor controls (e.g. Chiang Mai, Thailand). They then register themselves as being resident with the necessary paperwork to prove it.

Then he wanders into HSBC Jersey and open an account and the details say non-UK resident, because that is what he's proven. No obvious tie back to his home in Romford, Essex where he runs his tobacco smuggling business from 365-days per year. So even though he is a (theoretically) a UK resident taxpayer, his details are not passed to HMRC and he can declare whatever the hell he likes to them, or indeed nothing at all.

Not cheap admittedly, but a good protection for the criminals.

Easier way....

Trevor Scott | | Permalink

...self owning trusts, foundations, shell companies.....then as little as $3,000 per annum in professional fees.....all without leaving home.....except to post some signed documents. Either no, or little, legally incurred taxes.