Monday, September 26, 2011

Protest in Spain against Swiss bankers and Swiss secrecy

We've previously noted a story about data leaks from HSBC Switzerland, where information has emerged about thousands of tax evaders with secret accounts, leading to probes into the affairs of account holders by French, German and UK authorities. But there seems to have been some reticence in naming and shaming.

In Spain, voices are now making themselves heard in demanding redress and action. On 23 September, a crowd of "indignants" from the organization 15-M, and others, protested outside the headquarters of HSBC in Madrid and then the Swiss Embassy. The "Indignants" have sent a letter to the head of HSBC in Spain, and to the Swiss Ambassador, stating their demands on combating tax evasion.

They asked the director of HSBC to open up the accounts that Spanish tax evaders hold in his bank in Switzerland, and to guarantee payment of the amount of unpaid taxes. They also demanded that if he refused to do so, he should leave the country. In the letter to the Swiss ambassador, they asked whether he considers it legitimate that the Swiss banking industry profits through the theft of tax revenues from other countries.

They warn that if the secret, tax evading accounts and account holders are not given up to the Spanish tax authorities, 15-M movement and allies will "request to the competent authorities that Switzerland is unworthy of being part of the international community, and should be banned from international agencies and included in the blacklist of tax havens."

You can read a report, in Spanish, here, from Red por la Abolición de la Deuda Externa y la Resitutión de la Deuda Ecológica.

There was a time, not long ago, when tax evading by wealthy people through secret bank accounts was considered an entitlement of the privileged class. Times are changing, in many places. Our hearty thanks to the Spanish "indignants" for shining light on the abuse and for demanding redress and accountability.

Hat tip: Markus Henn of WEED.


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