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Avaaz in legal challenge to UK over Liechtenstein amnesty and HSBC scandal

Avaaz letter Avaaz letterFrom the Financial Times:

“The UK tax authority faces a potential judicial review over its handling of the evasion scandal involving HSBC’s Swiss subsidiary, it emerged on Thursday. Lawyers acting for the international campaign group Avaaz have sent HM Revenue & Customs a letter asking for details of its decision to allow hundreds of suspected tax evaders to make use of an amnesty, in the first step of the potential legal challenge.
. . .
The move comes amid widespread public anger overrevelations of tax evasion involving HSBC’s Geneva operations, which have led to a single prosecution.”

The Guardian has the letter, in full.

Small countries, big banks: is Andorra the new Cyprus?

Andorra has just over twice the population of Liechtenstein, and looks a little like it too.

Andorra has just over twice the population of Liechtenstein, and looks (and behaves) a little like it too.

Our quote of the day comes from the introductory paragraph of a Reuters story:

“With Andorra now added to the list, how many more examples do we need to see the folly of combining a small country with a large banking system?”

That’s our quote of the day. The lead angle of the story is one of financial stability: it asks if this is Cyprus, all over again. Banking assets in Andorra are over six times GDP, with assets under management worth the equivalent of 17 times GDP. The rating agency Standard & Poor’s has just cut Andorra’s credit rating to two levels above junk. Following in the small-country theme, Reuters also cites:

“those financial crisis examples of Ireland and Iceland, both of whom enjoyed the fruits of wild-west banking for a time only to see it end extremely badly.”

Links Dec 10

Former Swiss Banker Collapses During WikiLeaks Data Trial Bloomberg “Elmer, 59, is accused of violating the country’s financial secrecy laws in a campaign to raise awareness of the use of Swiss bank accounts for illegal activity including tax evasion”, and recent blog Show trial of Swiss whistleblower Elmer now in 9th yearSee also Elmer trial highlights whistleblowing dilemma Swissinfo, which tries to be impartial, shows bias by describing the persecuted whistleblower as ‘notorious’

Mafia Money: Follows a money laundering trail in Luxembourg and Cayman, also Switzerland, Liechtenstein and San Marino  Il Sole 24 ore (In Italian)
For a rough translation to English via Google see here

Luxembourg Leaks stories around the world ICIJ
The Luxembourg Leaks project brought together more than 80 journalists from media organisations all around the world. Explore the map to see all their stories. See also earlier blog Luxembourg Leaks 2: Koch Industries, Disney, Skype edition

Luxembourg Leaks 2: Koch Industries, Disney, Skype edition

Koch Industries: Luxleaks  finds a huge internal bank buried in the labyrinthine financial plumbing of the $115bn trading giant.

Koch Industries: Luxleaks finds a huge internal bank buried in the labyrinthine financial plumbing of the $115bn trading giant.

So the next round of Luxleaks is with us. Corporate tax avoidance, as the chair of the UK’s Public Accounts Committee put it, “on an industrial scale.”

We post an array of stories below, and will write more about this in due course.

As it happens, Luxembourg is likely getting it in the neck from another quarter too: it has been exposed as a central player in a massive Mafia scandal now just starting to unfold in Italy. A scandal that also starring old friends of ours Switzerland (still persecuting and currently trying to jail tax haven whistleblower Rudolf Elmer, who just collapsed in court), San Marino, Liechtenstein and the Cayman Islands. The English-speaking press doesn’t seem to have picked up on this one yet, but they will: see this story in Italian, for instance, and its rough web translation.)

What a rogue’s gallery.

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