Monday, February 25, 2008

Revenue buys stolen information about tax haven

It has come to light, that the tax authorities (HMRC) have paid £100 000 for information about bank accounts in Liechtenstein. They aim to potentially get back £100 million in tax avoidance from UK residents who have stashed money there to avoid UK tax. They bought the disk with stolen data from a disgruntled former employee of the Liechtenstein Global Trust (LGT).

The German tax authorities previously had paid 5 million Euros for information about German tax payers. Tax inspectors there are going through the finances of 900 people based on the information they received.

Lichtenstein is a major financial centre with 75 000 registered companies but only 35 000 residents. The LGT offers “wealth management to individuals and companies with the promise of absolute confidentiality.”

HMRC have the power to pay informants for information and have been investigating offshore investment in tax havens like the Isle of Man & the Channel Islands. Whether the payments for the stolen data is legal will be a big question. Finally as Mickey Clarke of the Evening Standard noted, “hopefully they won’t lose the valuable disc!”

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