BBC Panorama will tonight (Monday, 9 February) broadcast ‘TAX CHEATS’ – HSBC

09 Feb

The BBC will tonight (Monday, 9 February) broadcast a programme entitled ‘The Bank of Tax Cheats’.

Part of the Panorama current affairs series, it will undoubtedly make for interesting viewing for me because in my role as deVere CEO I am often called upon to debate and offer comment, opinion and analysis on topical tax-related news.

According to the BBC, “Panorama has seen thousands of accounts from HSBC’s private bank in Switzerland leaked by a whistleblower in 2007.  They show bankers helped… tax dodgers stay ahead of the law.”

The thousands of pages of stolen data were obtained by Le Monde, a French newspaper, and have now been passed on to BBC’s Panorama and more than 50 other media outlets worldwide.

Indeed, this morning the Financial Times has a splash “HSBC in Swiss tax avoidance storm.”

To my mind, the use of language on this issue is important.  The phrases “tax dodger” and “tax avoidance storm” are sensationalist and, arguably, inaccurate – and therefore unhelpful and misleading.

Blurring the lines (perhaps deliberately to whip up a furore and promote TV shows and sell newspapers) between tax avoidance, which is legal, and tax evasion, which is not, and implying offshore accounts are exclusively used to illegally hide cash from the taxman, detracts from the important conversation regarding a serious and growing global problem that needs to be tackled head on.

As I say, I will be watching with interest the programme this evening.  But no doubt, so-called tax activists, amongst others, will be keen to extol to anyone who will listen about a ‘deVere CEO Nigel Green Panorama rant’.

This, however, is not the case.  I just appeal for accuracy and balance on the tax avoidance vs tax evasion debate.

In a blog last week, I stressed this very point following a report by the Public Accounts Committee on PwC’s activities.

Nigel Green deVere Group

Blog written 9th Feb


Your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Financial Health Quiz

Discover your financial well-being with the Financial Health Quiz.

In just 2 minutes, assess your finances, get personalized results, and actionable steps – all for free.

Take the quiz

Get the latest from Nigel Green