24th April 2017
As many of you will already be aware, Switzerland’s second largest bank, Credit Suisse is currently tangled up in an international tax evasion scandal of colossal proportions. The ensuing investigation has already involved the examination of 55,000 suspect accounts and the seizure of millions of euros in cash, gold, jewellery, real estate and paintings.
The scandal: International involvement
However in a new blow to Credit Suisse, and indeed the reputation of Switzerland’s banking sector, the Netherlands is leading a coalition of five tax authorities conducting a criminal investigation into undeclared “black” accounts and money laundering. According to reports, Dutch prosecutors acted after receiving a tip-off on assets hidden within “offshore accounts and policies”, with an estimated value of millions of euros.
The scale of the supposed transgressions by both taxpayers and high ranking bank employees has, somewhat unsurprisingly, prompted fresh calls to end Swiss banking secrecy and provoked a number of international investigations. HMRC has also confirmed that it has launched a criminal investigation into suspected tax evasion and money laundering by an unnamed ‘global financial institution’ and its employees, and warned of “further, targeted, activity over the coming weeks”.
However it is the Netherland’s actions which have received the most backlash from Switzerland’s government with its actions said to have sparked a diplomatic row between the Swiss and Dutchadministrations. Officials in Geneva were reportedly furious about having been purposefully left in thedark about orchestrated raids which took place at homes and offices across the Netherlands and France at the beginning of the month.
So far only two arrests have been made in the Netherlands, where the haul of assets seized included property, cash, a collection of paintings worth €1.2m (£1m), a luxury car, and a 1 kilogram gold ingot.However, dozens of Dutch taxpayers are said to be under investigation, and according to the nation’s Fiscal Information and Investigation Services (FIOD) further action should be expected in the coming weeks.
It’s becoming increasingly difficult for individuals and companies around the world to get away with transgressive behaviour and new international investigations and harsher penalties will mean there is nowhere for tax evaders to hide. If you’re at all unsure about your status, or that of the contractors you’re placing in foreign locations, then ensure you partner with a specialist before it’s too late. With the law changing at a rapid rate in countries around the world, you could be putting yourself at a greater risk than you were aware.