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I’m sure many will have noticed that in three months’ time we have a General Elections coming and each of the political parties are jockeying for positions to gain our votes. It’s no wonder why the timing of tax avoidance/Hedge Funds is very much in all the press, social media, and in the public interest since Ed Miliband put the questions to David Cameron during Prime Ministers Question Time(PMQs) and all David Cameron can do is to put the blame on Labour then have the bloody cheek to say that Labour are in the pockets of the trade unions and conveniently forgetting that the hedge funders are in the pocket of the conservatives who allows them to be granted peerage in return for their extra-large donations to the Conservative Party.
I must say I was glad when Margaret Hodge MP from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) broke the news followed by Ed Miliband and BBC Panorama in the first instance whilst I’m happy that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) plan to investigate the sandal which will require the former HSBC to provide evidence. On the one hand I’m saying yeah right a conservative peer to give evidence. On the second hand they must think we’ve got muggings written on our forehead, who are you kidding its beggars belief that a Conservative peer will just volunteer the information without any sweetheart deals in the pipeline and how long will this take secondly how much will it cost the public purse strings to carry out this whitewash investigations it’s like adopting a donkey for the sum of £2:00.
Over the past five years the personal wealth of these 1,000 people has almost doubled. In 2009 they possessed “only” £257bn. This poses an obvious question. Over these years the real incomes of wage-earners fell by 9 per cent. How, then, did these very rich people, few of whom work in any conventional sense, manage this amazing feat of wealth accumulation?
Tax-dodging may provide part of the explanation. The practices of the HSBC’s Swiss subsidiary represented only a small part of a very big iceberg. “Wealth management” is one of the main activities of all the big banks. Research conducted for the PCS union estimates that tax evasion cost Britain £80bn in 2014 and tax avoidance another £25bn.
On this front it’s one law for the rich and one law for the poor. So-called “benefit fraud” represents just 1 per cent of this total. While the poorest 25 per cent pay almost 40 per cent of their income in tax, the richest 25 per cent pay only 35 per cent figures which will inevitably exclude undeclared wealth hidden away in Zurich or the Bahamas.
This is why the Labour Party is quite correct to call for Britain’s offshore territories and crown dependencies to establish public registers of the ultimate owners of all companies and accounts based in their jurisdiction. In the wake of the 2008 banking crash the previous Labour government established the Independent Review of Britain’s Offshore Financial Centres. Its purpose was to establish just how much money passed through these centres.
The Bank of International Settlements provided an estimate of the total cash flowing annually into tax havens across the world as $3.6 trillion (£2.4 trn). Of this total, British tax havens accounted for over two-thirds, considerably in excess of the value of Britain’s gross domestic product.
So it’s no surprise predictably Mr Miliband’s call for a register of ultimate ownership has brought cries of outrage. George Osborne dismissed Mr Miliband as “anti-business” and “unfit for office” even though Osborne was quite happy to serve for three years in government beside Lord Green, who presided over HSBC when it was fiddling tax.
Intriguingly HM Revenue in a nutshell has said it was forward a bundle in 2010 from France regarding possible evasion by HSBC clients. They alleged that they were prevented by an international agreement from sharing information about HSBC possible involvement in tax evasion.
My conclusion will be if those in concern paid their fair share of taxes the revenue could be used to fund our public services like our leisure services, public highways, build more council housing, hospitals, council tax, police, children and adult, disabilities, learning, mental health services.