HSBC Swiss office
Lamb accused HMRC of not doing enough to crackdown on tax avoidance Reuters

A UK government minister has called for an overhaul of the HMRC's culture in the wake of the HSBC Swiss tax avoidance scandal.

Norman Lamb claimed that the tax department was not doing enough to crackdown on those looking to avoid tax.

The Liberal Democrat and North Norfolk MP said that was a "sense of double standards" and said the government should look at HMRC's culture.

"It seems to me that if you seek to evade...that is in effect stealing from the state, and there should be an absolute expectation that you get prosecuted, and I don't think that is the case at the moment," he told a BBC Question Time audience.

The comments come after documents alleged that a Swiss banking arm of the world's second largest bank helped wealthy clients evade tax by hiding millions of dollars of assets.

The data were stolen by Hervé Falciani, a French IT expert, in 2007 after he hacked into customer files and fled to France.

While the French authorities detained him, Falciani was not extradited and the files were used to identify and prosecute French tax dodgers.

The government has come under pressure since the allegations came to light. But Treasury minister David Gauke has stressed that they relate to the period that Labour was in power.

However, he admitted that ministers were first given information about HSBC in May 2010.

"HMRC received the HSBC data under very strict conditions which limited the department's use of it to pursuing off-shore tax evasion and prevented HMRC from sharing the data with other law enforcement authorities," Gauke said.

"Under these restrictions, HMRC has not been able to seek prosecution for other potential offences such as money laundering."

The leaked documents revealed the Swiss accounts of more than 100,000 people, including 7,000 British citizens.