Tax Avoidance (HSBC)

Part of Isil – in the House of Commons at 3:35 pm on 23rd February 2015.

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Photo of George Osborne George Osborne The Chancellor of the Exchequer 3:35 pm, 23rd February 2015

Some very serious allegations have been made about HSBC Swiss and its role in knowingly advising people on tax evasion. Of course, our prosecuting authorities will want to look into the matter, but the House needs to know that the information that was received from the French authorities under the last Government—[Interruption.] This is important, and it is relevant to the right hon. Gentleman’s question. The information was received as the result of a negotiation with the French authorities about what use it could be put to, and the French agreement struck by the last Government said that we could use it only for prosecuting or pursuing individuals with regard to their tax affairs. We are currently in active discussion, which I think will come to a fruitful end, to get the French to allow us to pass some of that information to the Serious Fraud Office and other prosecuting authorities, to address the concern that he rightly raises about the potential or alleged role of banks in the affair.