Tax evaders off the hook?

So British residents’ cash which has been stashed away in Swiss bank accounts will be taxed.

The landmark deal that has been struck could lead to the HMRC enjoying a cash windfall of more than £5bn.

The Financial Times reported that “the agreement, which comes into force in 2013, respects bank secrecy by preserving the anonymity of UK account holders – a key Swiss demand”.

Chris Oates, head of Ernst & Young’s Tax Controversy team, told Reuters the agreement “may tempt Britons to move their money over the Swiss border into Liechtenstein” because “the Liechtenstein Disclosure Agreement only requires a back payment of taxes from 1999-2000 onward, rather than the total value of assets held in Switzerland”.

Is this really leading by example? One rule for taxpayers and another for tax evaders it appears.


Rebels reach central Tripoli

When I started writing this post in the early evening Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi had vowed to stay in Tripoli “until the end”.

He then called on his supporters around the country to help liberate the capital from a rebel offensive.

In an audio message played by state television he said he was “afraid that Tripoli will burn”.

By 2200 BST, I was absolutely gripped by Sky’s Alex Crawford unflinching reports from Libya.

Her description of the advancement was punctuated by gun fire lighting up the sky like fireworks and jubilant rebels, along with civilians who had surrounded her, chanting: “Allahu akbar!” (“God is great!”)

Meanwhile, Gaddafi’s spokesman, Mussa Ibrahim, claimed in a broadcast a few minutes later that 1,300 people had been killed in the last 11 and a half hours and laid the blame for the deaths at NATO’s door.

He went on to call for a cease-fire.

Sky News then reported that the rebels had revealed Saif Al-Islam, Col Gaddafi’s son, had been captured.

An ex-colleague of mine posted a comment on Facebook questioning whether the rebels have a plan to govern the oil-producing country.

The National Transitional Council (NTC) is now recognised as Libya’s legitimate authority by many countries including the British government which unfroze £91m in UK assets belonging to the Arabian Gulf Oil Company, a Libyan oil firm under the NTC’s control.

The head of the NTC’s political committee, Fatih Baja, told Reuters: “We’ve been preparing for this since the first month of the revolution.”

However, the rebels comprise different factions and ethnic and tribal divisions.

Only time will tell…