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UK Pursues Tax Evaders Using Stolen Bank Details 315

Andrew Smith writes "The UK taxman (HM Revenue & Customs) is reportedly using a stolen list of bank details to pursue wealthy individuals with off-shore accounts. The list was stolen by an employee of HSBC, and gave details of the bank's customers with money in Swiss accounts. The bank employee fled to France, and the authorities there passed the details on to the UK tax collection agency."
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UK Pursues Tax Evaders Using Stolen Bank Details

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  • Two Wrongs. . . (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Apple Acolyte ( 517892 ) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @02:08AM (#33701492)
    often do not make right, as the old saying points out. It's an interesting legal question, though: Does a country have a right to use information illegally obtained by a third party to enforce laws against those implicated by that tainted information? In the US evidence that is obtained without legal authority to obtain it can often be thrown out of court through the "exclusionary rule," a legal doctrine often mentioned in connection with a concept of some evidenced being obtained as the "fruit of a poisonous tree." I wonder if the UK has any similar sorts of protections - note that I'm not implying that such protections in the US legal system would necessarily protect anyone if this story had occurred in the US instead of the UK. Governments are clearly zealous about protecting the tax revenue they take from their citizens.
  • by schwit1 ( 797399 ) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @02:25AM (#33701548)

    "In the HMRC case, a former staff member at HSBC's Swiss division stole highly sensitive data belonging to 15,000 high net-worth account holders earlier this year and fled to France.

    The list was passed to the French authorities, who in turn handed the relevant details to HMRC."

    Not to use the information would be a disservice to all UK taxpayers.

    The article also mistakenly treats tax avoidance and tax evasion as being synonymous.

  • by nido ( 102070 ) <.moc.oohay. .ta. .65odin.> on Sunday September 26, 2010 @02:29AM (#33701552) Homepage

    It seems to me that Governments should wield the power to make money, and politicians should debate about where to spend the newly created money.

    But as it is, in the UK, the United States, and elsewhere, banks create money, and decide who to loan it to. Governments have no other choice but to levy taxes on the economy.

    Like Colbert said in his testimony about migrant farm workers [] (8:54), the political game is all about power, and the biggest economic power of all is "who gets to create money first." Whatever happened to that bill to 'Audit the Federal Reserve" (which is owned by private member banks)? I haven't kept up... Whatever you think about the Fed, at least its profits are returned to the U.S. Treasury now.

    Richard C. Cook's Bailout for the People [] (pdf []) has a really nice overview of an economic system that would work for the benefit of everyone...

    Some other sites: [] []

  • That's Why... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BlueStrat ( 756137 ) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @02:32AM (#33701566)

    ...When it comes to a national government's size, scope, and powers, smaller & weaker is good. Yes, it makes it harder to get "free government stuff" (that you end up paying for over and over, but I digress). But, it's hard for anyone to be or use a jack-booted thug/enforcer if there is no government department to create a jack-booted-thug/enforcer division or pay the jack-booted thugs/enforcers, or give them lists of targets...err, "citizens" to do the whole "boot crushing a human face...forever" thing on.

    Just sayin'


  • Re:Two Wrongs. . . (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mpoulton ( 689851 ) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @02:35AM (#33701584)

    In the US evidence that is obtained without legal authority to obtain it can often be thrown out of court through the "exclusionary rule,"

    The exclusionary rule does not apply to this type of instance. This information would be admissible in the US. The exclusionary rule only bars the admission of evidence which was obtained illegally BY THE GOVERNMENT or someone working on the government's behalf. When evidence is obtained due to a third party's criminal act (which was not induced by the government), it is not barred. For example, if I undertook my own independent investigation of a murder case and committed criminal acts to obtain evidence, then turned that over to the state, it would not be barred by the exclusionary rule unless it could be shown that I was cooperating with or induced by the state to violate the defendant's rights. IANAL, but I am a 3rd year law student.

  • Re:Two Wrongs. . . (Score:2, Interesting)

    by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @03:01AM (#33701672)
    You get to keep YOUR hard earned money. What these guys are doing is stealing from the government. After all it's not your hard earned money if you're not paying tax, it's tax fraud. But lets just run with your view of the world shall we?

    If you want that dangerous pothole down the road fixed, you can pay for it, and on that note no we will not be building a second bridge just because the traffic is bad because you guys haven't paid for it yet.
    Public schools? Yeah we got those, $10000 per year please.
    What do you mean garbage collection? You haven't paid us the $10 monthly fee to do it.
    Oh what you just got unfairly dismissed from your work because your boss didn't like that you wouldn't sleep with him? Tough, take it to the courts, we've shut down our fair work tribunal. Turns out they wanted to get paid too.
    By the way did you hear an oil company spilt 5million barrels of oil into the gulf? No we're not going to prosecute them, not unless you're willing to pay for the lawyers.

    I'd go on but you get the picture. Basically your utopia isn't.
  • Re:Two Wrongs. . . (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Joebert ( 946227 ) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @03:20AM (#33701712) Homepage
    The list in this case might be probable cause to court order a recent list from the bank itself to verify the questionable lists authenticity. Assuming the person in question was in a position to obtain such a list, the only question here is whether the list is authentic and whether it was modified, both of which can easily be answered definitively with a current list from the bank.

    Technically, I think the person who stole the list could argue that it's not actually a real list, that they forged it in an attempt to dupe nefarious buyers. This would force the prosecution to court order an authentic copy of the list to verify/debunk the defendants story. The bank would be forced to either comply with a non-altered list, or face criminal charges for evidence tampering. Once the list makes it to trial, I believe it becomes public knowledge and law enforcement is free to use the information in any way they please.

    I'm not a lawyer, but I've needed one a couple of times. That just seems like how it would end up working out to me.
  • Re:Two Wrongs. . . (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 26, 2010 @03:23AM (#33701724)

    If the GP is anything like most of the people who spout this philosophy, then chances are, he's not actually in a high tax bracket. For some reason, the bulk of defenders of the upper class rich (in the US at least) are not particularly well to do working class. For some reason, they want to defend their money from taxes when, inevitably their genius leads them to join the ranks of the rich.

  • Re:Two Wrongs. . . (Score:5, Interesting)

    by redhog ( 15207 ) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @03:39AM (#33701766) Homepage
    The US and UK are common law countries, and I think that this is something that might differ between common law and civil law (so France might be up to bad stuff here).

    In Sweden (a civil law country), we have freedom of evidence - anything can be presented in court as evidence, regardless of how it was obtained. If the police somehow obtains evidence illegaly (e.g. through burglary), that will be prosecuted separately. Since this second case does not affect the original court case, nor is affected by it, the police man / upper chain of command ordering the illegal act will get punished regardless of if the original case is thrown out or the defendant found guilty.
  • Re:Two Wrongs. . . (Score:2, Interesting)

    by FuckingNickName ( 1362625 ) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @04:01AM (#33701820) Journal

    Define "right".

    Define "earn".

  • Re:Two Wrongs. . . (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @05:44AM (#33702112)

    I'm not defending the GP post's black-and-white position, but your position is equally untenable. By your argument, it is perfectly OK for the government to take as much tax revenue as it likes, and I think a lot of us would have a problem with that, too.

    Taxation is, essentially, legalised theft, just as most of our governments are, essentially, legalised mob rule. History suggests that allowing some degree of both is better than the alternative, which is the Somalia situation you mentioned. But we should never forget that both a government that awards itself power over individual citizens and the concept of taxation are necessary evils. They are not good things, and they are to be tolerated only to the extent that we don't have any better ideas yet.

  • Not a first (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Leon Buijs ( 545859 ) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @06:41AM (#33702222) Homepage
    This has happend before with bank data from Germans at a foreign bank that were stolen by an employe and then sold to the German authorities. There was a lot of discussion but in the end the German gouvermant DID use the data. Again, the same thing is about to happen in the Netherlands, with data from banks in other parts of Europe. The Dutch tax department offers offenders a 'inkeerregeling': If you turn in the illegal foreign savings, you get a much lower fine than if you take your chances and wait for them to find them. If they ever will because it's not sure if this evidence will hold in Dutch court. This inkeerregeling has turned out to be very successful so far
  • Re:Two Wrongs. . . (Score:3, Interesting)

    by digitig ( 1056110 ) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @07:52AM (#33702332)

    If the GP is anything like most of the people who spout this philosophy, then chances are, he's not actually in a high tax bracket. For some reason, the bulk of defenders of the upper class rich (in the US at least) are not particularly well to do working class. For some reason, they want to defend their money from taxes when, inevitably their genius leads them to join the ranks of the rich.

    I suspect it's something to do with hope and aspiration. They like to think that the path to the wealthy and glamorous life they see on TV is open to them and unobstructed, even though for most of them personality and/or circumstances and/or luck mean that it isn't really.

  • by lxs ( 131946 ) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @08:04AM (#33702356)

    Yes it does. But to carry the analogy further, information is our servant and not our master. There is no need to honour the wish of a personified concept.

  • Not true (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Shivetya ( 243324 ) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @10:52AM (#33703246) Homepage Journal

    if one person's work and effort (result is riches) then no one's work or effort is worth defending.

    Besides, all those big names we see (soros, gates, jobs, murdoch) and such are not affected by income taxes. Yet people love to soak the evil rich and instead his the working rich, those who go to very good paying jobs they got through investment in school and work. It also soaks many multi employee small businessmen.

    Purchasing should be taxed, not income. The evil rich can very much pay for society by taxing the spending of all. Taxing income is simply the best way to hide the burden the state puts on people as a whole. With the subtle deceit of having the taxes paid before the employee sees his check he does not have the same connection as the small businessman when it comes to just how much tax is out there.

    So, yeah I will defend the working rich, the small businessman, the doctor, the broker, and such. Those in the range of 150 to 500k should not bear the brunt of a society which is more and more turning into lazy gimme children.

  • by dwillden ( 521345 ) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @02:33PM (#33704484) Homepage
    Question: Does British Law have a "Fruit of the poisoned tree." concept like US law? If so then this list cannot be legally used to prosecute tax avoidance or evasion.
  • Re:Two Wrongs. . . (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dave420 ( 699308 ) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @06:39PM (#33706030)
    Exactly, and the government has a right to the money it's earned from providing a protected, safe setting for business to flourish. Why do they not get their cut? It's like not wanting to pay the rent for your shop, even though you earn a shit-tonne of money from that very shop. No one earns money in a vacuum. We have to pay for what's in that vacuum, that allowed us to make that money. Basic fucking logic - you should look it up.
  • Re:Two Wrongs. . . (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dave420 ( 699308 ) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @06:43PM (#33706064)
    You have to think how the removal of such things will affect everyone else, as again, you are not existing in a vacuum. If oil prices go up, you might indeed be fine, but the people you rely on for every facet of your life that involves dealing with anyone who earns less than you, could face great difficulty, which in turn causes you great difficulty, and then the next year your earnings plummet. There is more than just you and the government, you realise?

Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed. -- Neil Armstrong