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Press watch: Secret billions

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‘Britons with billions of pounds hidden in Switzerland will pay tax at 50% under a groundbreaking deal that will legitimise their undeclared assets, according to a source familiar with negotiations between the Swiss and British governments.

‘The agreement, which is expected to be announced this month, marks a shift in emphasis in the international crackdown on tax havens. Over the past two years, the focus has been on lifting bank secrecy and exposing evaders. Under the deal, £3 billion is expected to be raised over the course of this parliament and investors will also pay a one-off retrospective levy in recognition of past unpaid tax.

‘The move by the Swiss authorities to “regularise” hidden accounts by taxing them on behalf of the UK government is a sign of the intense pressure they have faced from cash-strapped foreign governments angered by the role of Swiss banks in facilitating evasion.’

Financial Times, 3 May