HMRC to cash in from Liechtenstein Deep Throat

The government has spent £100,000 of our money buying a list of bank accounts from some dodgy geezer in Liechtenstein...

by
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

HM Revenue & Customs is paying out the sum to a whistleblower from the tiny European state, in exchange for a list of about 100 wealthy people who have been using offshore accounts in the country to dodge taxes back in the UK. Apparently the information could yield about £100m in back taxes, so it’s not surprising that the Revenue appears to be rubbing its hands in glee.

The Liechtenstein Deep Throat (or ‘Tiefe Kehle’, as he’d presumably be known in his German-speaking homeland) is supposedly an ex-employee of the principality’s state-owned bank LGT, who’s been busy trying to flog this list of accounts to the highest bidder since 2005. Apparently he managed to smuggle all the info out of the bank on a stolen DVD – so given its track record on the data security front, it’s no wonder the Government was willing to be sympathetic.

To be fair, it appears to have taken a bit of convincing. When the informant first offered the names a couple of years ago, he was sent off with a flea in his ear. So he promptly sold the list of names to Germany instead for about €5m (who clearly had no such scruples) – and their success in raiding hundreds of tax dodgers has obviously convinced the Revenue to change its tune.

As you’d expect, Liechtenstein isn’t terribly happy about the situation, accusing the Germans of bully-boy tactics (like that would ever happen) and threatening to sue the whistleblower in question. But since it’s one of only three countries blacklisted as an ‘uncooperative tax haven’ by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, it can’t say it hasn’t been warned.

There was no word about whether the cash was left in a brown envelope in a Cold War-era dead letter box somewhere, but it still seems a bit undignified for an economic superpower to be shelling out all this cash to a disgruntled Liechtensteinian who’s selling his ex-employer up the river (where’s an American rendition flight when you need one? Much cheaper way of doing it).

Then again, given that the Government seems to have neglected to put away a few pennies for the forthcoming rainy days, it obviously needs the tax revenue more than the moral high ground..

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

Subscribe

Get your essential reading delivered. Subscribe to Management Today