HM Revenue and Customs say it is looking into allegations that criminals have used offshore accounts at HSBC Jersey for money laundering. After a whistle blower is believed to have handed over 4,000 offshore account holder details, which include a well-known drug dealer living in Central America, former bankers, doctors, mining and oil workers, celebrities as well as other well-known figures who may have used the off shore tax haven, to avoid paying tax.
In response HSBC, the UK's largest bank, have released a statement saying: "We are investigating the reports of an alleged loss of certain client data in Jersey as a matter of urgency. We have not been notified of any investigation in relation to this matter by HMRC or any other authority but, should we receive notification, we will cooperate fully with the authorities. They added that HSBC remains fully committed to adoption of the highest global standards including the procedures for the acceptance of clients."
The issue of tax avoidance at all levels of politics and private life has come very much to the forefront in the past couple of years. As the recession, Eurozone crisis and austerity cuts affect most people in some way or another.
In Greece last week a Greek magazine published the details of more than 2,000 HSBC clients with Swiss bank accounts after a whistle blower sold the details in Geneva. And even our very own BBC currently at the centre of a number of scandals has announced they will cut back on personal service companies for employees to avoid paying tax. So tax and the avoidance of it at whatever level is a subject being very closely looked at now.
Written and presented by Ann Salter