Tax havens are finished says SocGen CEO

Societe Generale, chief executive, Frederic Oudea has told French television channel BFM that the days where individuals and company's could channel money into secretive accounts in order to avoid tax are over.

Oudea said on Tuesday:

With all the reforms today that have been done by various governments, tax havens - that is to say people with secret bank accounts hidden somewhere to avoid the tax authorities - in my view, that is over.

He cited the example of Switzerland, as a case where the tougher stance being adopted against tax avoidance was working. The United States and Switzerland came to an agreement in August 2013, allowing Swiss banks to pay fines in order to avoid prosecution over tax evasion by US customers. UBS, Switzerland's largest bank, reached a settlement with US authorities worth £485m in 2009 after it confessed to sheltering US citizens tax evaders.

Oudea argued that the increasingly tough measures being implemented to tackle tax avoidance and evasion makes the forthcoming US FACTA law unnecessary. The Foreign Account Tax Compliant Act, which will come into effect in July 2014, will compel foreign institutions to inform the US authorities about Americans' offshore accounts worth more than £31,100. Mr Oudea said "what is happening today, particularly in Switzerland, makes this law unnecessary."

The UK government has vociferously denounced tax avoidance and has introduced a general anti-abuse rule, which came into force on 17 July 2013. The GAAR has however been subject to criticism due to its vague nature which critics argue will undermine the rule of law.