One year on, but what's changed?
So it’s been reported that a bank WE own is being investigated by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs for allegations of involvement in tax avoidance.
This is probably the issue I have blogged about more than any other since Snowblog dawned – tax havens and tax avoidance, and the Channel Islands have never been far from the discussion.
I am not in the habit of cross-promoting the BBC. But clearly the BBC’s Panorama programme is on the right button tonight.
The secret filming revolves around a Lloyds bank employee telling an undercover reporter that income earned on monies deposited in their particular Channel Island, could be paid via Hong Kong to ‘get round’ the European Savings Tax Directive is clearly instructive.
Lloyds has denied any wrongdoing in its offshore practices and said it has suspended the employee in question pending an internal investigation.
Lloyds said: “Any advice we offer customers is made within the context of the robust anti money-laundering systems and processes we have in place. These processes are designed to ensure that colleagues are able to identify and report any suspicious activity on the part of our customers.”
They continued: “We have been provided with information by Panorama which could suggest serious misconduct by a member of staff in one of our Jersey offices. We take these allegations by Panorama very seriously and a full and comprehensive investigation into this matter is already underway. The member of staff has been suspended pending the outcome of our investigation. If the investigation concludes that serious misconduct has occurred, then the company will take the appropriate disciplinary action.”
We keep being told that the Channel Islands tax haven activities have been closed down. You and I have so far spent £17 billion on Lloyds.
It all goes to the very heart of two pledges made by the government in the aftermath of the crash year ago – firstly to tackle tax avoidance and effectively to shut down tax havens – secondly to shut down the myriad efforts by onshore banks to assist their customers to ship their UK earned income off-shore to avoid paying tax.
And here is Panorama with a credible allegation that a bank WE own are engaged in doing just that.
We are one year on from the crash, what’s changed?