UK banks sign up to tax code

IN A last minute scramble the UK’s 15 largest banks have signed up to a government code of practice aimed at reducing tax avoidance, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said yesterday.

The code, which had a deadline of 30 November, but until October had only been supported by four of the 15, requires the banks to “follow the spirit of the law in addition to the letter” on tax and to work with the government “to encourage mutually open and transparent relationships.”

Chancellor George Osborne said the code, which was initiated by Labour chancellor Alistair Darling, showed the coalition was “taking action to ensure banks pay their fair share.”

It is a victory for Clegg, who was disappointed by Osborne’s suspension of plans to force UK banks to reveal details of all bonuses above £1m as he seeks to get a Europe-wide pact on the level of pay disclosure.

The banks that have signed the code are Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JP Morgan Chase, Lloyds Banking Group, Morgan Stanley, Nationwide Building Society, Royal Bank of Scotland, Santander, Standard Chartered and UBS.