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Press watch: Avaaz to challenge against HMRC over HSBC tax evasion scandal

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The FT reported (1 May) that lawyers acting for the international campaign group Avaaz ‘sent HMRC 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 a potential judicial review against the UK’s tax authority regarding its role in the HSBC Suisse tax evasion furore, and revelations that of a list of more than 1,000 names, HMRC made just one prosecution.

The legal challenge comes at a time of ‘widespread public anger’ over the news, leaked to the press in February by a former employee of HSBC’s private banking operations in Geneva who had stolen the data and the details of the individuals contained therein, known as the ‘Lagarde list’.

Avaaz campaign director Alex Wilks told the newspaper: ‘If the police extended the terms of knife amnesties to criminals caught carrying weapons, the public would be outraged. Tax officials must urgently explain why they gave “get out of jail free” cards to so many wealthy tax dodgers.’ HMRC responded in a statement: ‘We will strongly contest any action, on the grounds we used the Lagarde list properly and effectively.’