Update on the UK's Squalid Secrecy Deal with Switzerland
August 26th, 2011
August 26th, 2011
Adapted from the Tax Justice Blog:
The UK has initialed an agreement with Switzerland which we recently wrote up on the Task Force blog. In short, UK tax evaders using banks in Switzerland will have to start paying some tax – but the UK will allow those (criminal) tax evaders to avoid penalties and retain their anonymity. The UK will have to trust that Switzerland will keep its part of the bargain, even though it will be impossible to conduct any comprehensive checks. There are reasonable fears that this model may spread widely to other countries.
We at TJN think this is a thoroughly rotten and corrupt deal. For the following reasons.
Patrick Odier, Chair of the Swiss Banking Association, is delighted: “overall, my assessment of the tax agreements is positive,” he told Swissinfo.ch. “They mark important milestones for the Swiss financial centre. As a banker, I am especially grateful that clients have been offered a fair solution for regularising their efforts.” You bet he’s grateful, and so are his clients.
Now here are a few headlines from elsewhere:
UK-Swiss tax deal ‘a disgrace’ warns Christian Aid – Christian Aid
The new tax deal between the UK and Switzerland amounts to collusion with criminality and will seriously damage poor countries’ attempts to collect the billions they lose to tax dodgers. See also Morality demands rethink of UK-Swiss tax deal, warns Christian Aid.
UK-Swiss tax deal: timid and anonymous – Financial Times
“As long as specific names and account details remain secret, determined tax evaders will have an edge over governments. So why have Germany and the UK been willing to settle for less than the standard set in this area in the European Savings Tax Directive, and for fewer concessions than the US received in 2009?”
David Prosser: Britain’s tawdry tax deal with Switzerland is a charter for tax evaders – The Independent.
How pleased should we be about the latest deal? About as pleased as we would be if someone had robbed a British bank, fled to Switzerland and then got away scot-free apart from the inconvenience of the local authorities handing back some of the proceeds.
La Tribune: London sells its fiscal soul for six billion Euros.
The headline puts it perfectly.
A series from Tax Research:
Let’s not get personal – this is a matter of right or wrong
This was a ‘Marmite’ issue – you’re either for or against it. You are either for or against letting tax criminals off; endorsing banking secrecy so that criminality may flourish; giving anonymity to who coldly plan and execute their crimes in organised fashion; encouraging an unlevel playing field for business so that the cheats get an unfair competitive advantage; H M Revenue & Customs not upholding the law; granting immunity to those banks and bankers who organised the handling of stolen property. It’s about ethics.
The friends of tax havens are delighted with the Swiss tax deal
The Sovereign Society, Swiss bankers, and many others, are delighted. Which says it all.
Labour shadow minister condemns Swiss tax deal
“The Government should ensure that all those who have broken the law face the full penalty. There is a significant risk that some who have taken part in criminal tax evasion will escape by paying less than if prosecuted – the Government should guarantee this will not happen.”
How can Dave Hartnett head HMRC when he utters nonsense like this?
The head of UK’s HMRC thinks this is a wonderful deal, and, bizarrely, is ‘fair’ for British taxpayers. Don’t talk rubbish, Dave.
Cameron and Osborne did the Swiss tax deal to support tax evasion – there’s no other explanation
The EU Savings Tax Directive, currently being beefed up, would have ensured we’d have got all the information we needed to demand all the tax due by those who have been criminally evading their tax bills. It would have applied to Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Cayman and all other British tax havens that comprise the branch offices of the City of London tax haven. And it would also have extended information exchange to companies and trusts – which would have shattered the tax evasion industries in these British tax havens.I think the UK- Swiss tax deal has been deliberately engineered to scupper that.
Osborne’s just invited everyone to bank in Switzerland
the UK government has just handed a perpetual competitive advantage to Swiss banks over UK banks in the markets for savings in the UK. Think just how stupid that is.
How is it tax evasion’s no longer a crime but demonstrating about tax avoidance is?
The UK government is turning this deliberate blind eye to massive, large scale, organised looting of the UK’s tax system it is also bringing criminal charges against more than thirty young people who recently took part in a in a wholly peaceful UK Uncut demonstration against tax avoidance.
The Swiss declare it’s a great day for tax evasion
The Swiss bankers love it.
In the words of TJN’s James Henry, author of the book, Blood Bankers, this is a bargain with the devil.
Imagine the horror of what would happen if this thinking spread. Tax haven secrecy would be entrenched. Criminality, impunity, corruption and a breakdown in trust would become entrenched.
This is an issue for all citizens of the world. Not only have other countries considered following the UK-German lead – but the UK appears to be considering extending this Swiss model to other countries. Take a look at this. Imagine it – Swiss-style protection-for-secrecy deals spreading like a cancer around the world.
It is not too late to stop this in the UK. Let’s start to mobilise to get this stopped.