‘Lagarde list’ under tax scrutiny
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.