Taxman offers amnesty to 6,000 Swiss account holders at HSBC

THE GOVERNMENT is offering up to 6,000 holders of Swiss bank accounts at HSBC a last chance to come clean with the taxman or face possible investigation that could involve a criminal probe.

After being contacted by the HMRC, the account-holders will have 30 days to come forward.

“Those making a disclosure will pay a fraction of what they would have had to otherwise and will also receive a guarantee that they will not be prosecuted,” said Simon Airey, a partner at DLA Piper.

“They will not be exposed to the maximum 200 per cent penalty on the unpaid tax.”

The HMRC has already started criminal and serious fraud investigations into more than 500 individuals and organisations, and will shortly start contacting the rest, it said.

A HMRC source said information on the accounts was obtained through an exchange agreement with French authorities.

However, the original source of the data is a haul of up to 24,000 Swiss client accounts stolen from HSBC by a former IT employee, the source said.