‘La­garde list’ un­der tax scru­tiny

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

Fi­nance Min­is­ter Harris Ge­or­giades con­firmed on Tues­day that the tax author­i­ties have re­ceived data con­tain­ing de­posits of Cypriot in­di­vid­u­als or en­ti­ties held at HSBC in Switzer­land, not­ing that this list is sub­ject to “so­phis­ti­cated scru­tiny.”

“The tax author­i­ties have re­ceived in­for­ma­tion about Cypriot de­pos­i­tors, in­cluded in this list, or other per­sons un­der a Cypriot ad­dress,” who may have al­legedly failed to pay their tax dues, he said, con­firm­ing a re­port by daily “Poli­tis” that Cyprus has re­ceived the so-called La­garde list, a leaked list of de­posits held in HSBC in Switzer­land.

Not­ing that hav­ing a bank ac­count abroad is not illegal and that the in­clu­sion of a per­son in this list does not sug­gest that this per­son is a tax evader, Ge­or­giades said that the tax author­i­ties, as they do in all such cases, will check to see whether these de­posits have been gen­er­ated from in­come that has been taxed.

“In any case, this list will be sub­ject to so­phis­ti­cated scru­tiny from the state’s tax author­i­ties which, un­der the law, are the sole re­spon­si­ble bod­ies to process such in­for­ma­tion,” he added.

Re­spond­ing to press ques­tions, the Fi­nance Min­is­ter said that if a per­son in­cluded in this list in­tends to pay his taxes this per­son will be sub­ject to the pro­vi­sions of the law, that is he will be obliged to pay the tax, as well as the penal­ties.

Fur­ther­more, Ge­or­giades said that he has not re­ceived or seen this list “given the po­lit­i­cal sen­si­tiv­ity that ev­ery­one un­der­stands.”

“The list has been given un­der

cer­tain con­di­tions stip­u­lated in EU di­rec­tives, it will be scru­ti­nised by the those com­pe­tent un­der the law to do so and it is not up to me or any other po­lit­i­cal per­son to ex­am­ine, see or give any in­for­ma­tion on this list,” he ex­plained, not­ing that these is­sues are con­fi­den­tial un­der the law.

He noted that if the Par­lia­ment wants to make this in­for­ma­tion public, they should amend the ex­ist­ing leg­is­la­tion which stip­u­lates that these is­sues are gov­erned by con­fi­den­tial­ity.

The leaked list con­tain­ing de­posits held by var­i­ous na­tion­als in HSBC in Switzer­land has been dubbed the “La­garde list,” as Chris­tine La­garde, then France’s Min­is­ter of Fi­nance, was given in 2010 the list which in­cludes de­posits of Greek per­sons and com­pa­nies in Switzer­land to the Greek author­i­ties.

Mean­while, the Tax Depart­ment said it is pro­cess­ing the data to make the most of the in­for­ma­tion, ac­cord­ing to Tax­a­tion Com­mis­sioner Yian­nakis Lazarou.

The La­garde list con­tains about 2,000 names with un­de­clared ac­counts at the Swiss branch of HSBC in Geneva.

Lazarou said that af­ter com­mu­ni­cat­ing with the French tax author­i­ties, the Cyprus Tax Depart­ment re­cently ac­quired the La­garde list in ac­cor­dance with a Euro­pean di­rec­tive for ad­min­is­tra­tive co­op­er­a­tion in the area of tax­a­tion.

As he ex­plained, the list was sent to the Depart­ment in dig­i­tal form and it in­cludes both nat­u­ral and le­gal per­sons.

“The list is be­ing pro­cessed so that we can make the most of the data therein”, Lazarou said.

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