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Press watch: ‘Hundred of UK's richest are hiding billions offshore’

printer Mail

“More than 100 of Britain's richest people have been caught hiding billions of pounds in secretive offshore havens, sparking an unprecedented global tax evasion investigation.

“George Osborne, the chancellor, warned the alleged tax evaders, and a further 200 accountants and advisers accused of helping them cheat the taxman: ‘The message is simple: if you evade tax, we're coming after you.’

“HM Revenue & Customs warned those involved, who were named in offshore data first offered to the authorities by a whistleblower in 2009, that they will face ‘criminal prosecution or significant penalties’ if they do not voluntarily disclose their tax irregularities, as the UK steps up its efforts to clamp down on avoidance ahead of the G8 summit in June.

“The 400-gigabyte cache of data leaked to the authorities is understood to be the same information seen by the Guardian in its Offshore Secrets series in November 2012 and March this year. It reveals complicated financial structures using companies and trusts stretching from Singapore and the British Virgin Islands to the Cayman Islands and the Cook Islands.

“The Treasury is working in collaboration with American and Australian tax authorities in the biggest ever cross-border tax evasion investigation, and warned that the alleged evaders may be publicly named and shamed if they fail to come clean and explain their tax affairs.”

The Guardian, 10 May 2013