Last week`s revelations about PwC promoting "industrial scale" tax avoidance and now, HSBC`s "Swiss skulduggery", illustrate quite clearly how the financial sector has been ripping off this country for years, largely with little hindrance or objection from the government of the day. The coalition has been reminded of this by Hodge`s committee for years, and has done nothing to stop PwC or any other of the Big 4 accounting firms from making massive profits by advising on how to deprive the nation of much-needed revenue. The coalition has even cut thousands of jobs, approximately 20%, at HMRC, and we`re still expected to believe all their nonsense about "smelling coffee" and moral repugnance? They really do take us for mugs.
With £375bn provided by quantitative easing clearly insufficient for the banks to do anything to kickstart the economy back in 2010, other than to line pockets of these so-called "best people" with obscene pay and bonuses, and with scams like mis-selling insurance, fixing Libor and foreign exchange rates, and laundering drug money continuing uninterrupted despite CEO rhetoric about putting "ethics before profits", and nurturing a "culture of ethical and purposeful business", it is time for Labour to promise action. Two pledges appear obvious, and certainly would not adversely effect election hopes. As it is clear that "normal rules of society" are being ignored, legislation is needed, and what could more appropriately display Labour`s determination to address the problem of the City`s arrogance than a financial transaction tax. If this was followed by inclusion in their manifesto of the proposal to nationalise fully RBS and convert it into a People`s Bank, with sensibly-salaried staff paid to care more about customer service than the super-rich`s greed, fear of losing customers might actually change the banking culture. Let`s face it, appealing to their sense of decency is pointless!
As Margaret Hodge said, HMRC "may go easy" on HSBC, but parliament,on behalf of the public, will not", which is encouraging, but is embarrassing tax officials, bankers and ministers in cahoots with the City actually enough? Certainly nothing has succeeded, including unsurprisingly, fairly unsubstantial fines, in reducing bankers` arrogance, which was well illustrated by their emails congratulating each other over Libor and Forex rate fixing. Now their conceit and duplicity is shown to have no bounds with HSBC`s selling of a tax-avoiding "vehicle" which created for their greedy customers "corporate accounts with no genuine trading activity" and no tax bills, and to which they "wittily" gave such names as "Alter Ego Ltd".
With Dave Hartnett, who "played a key role in shaping HMRC`s handling of the Swiss data|", going on to work as a consultant to HSBC in 2012, with the bank facing "no criminal investigation", and the £375bn banks received from quantitative easing in 2010 not being used to kickstart the economy as intended, pay-back time has surely arrived? The EU`s Financial Transaction Tax comes into force in 2016, so it has to be sensible for the Labour party to pledge a commitment to it as early as possible. Dare any fat cats suggest the banks don`t deserve it?