'We will catch up with you' - offshore account holders warned

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The Independent Online

HM Revenue & Customs is upping its efforts to track down untaxed cash held in offshore accounts.

HMRC has met with up to 150 stockbrokers and wealth management firms to urge them to persuade their clients to come clean.

"Come forward now as, at the end of the day, we will catch up with you," a spokesman told 'The Independent on Sunday'. "We have a colossal amount of intelligence on account holders – there is no hiding place."

It is thought HMRC could be in line for a £1.5bn windfall if it gets offshore account holders to pay the tax that is due.

This is the latest bid to track down funds held by tax dodgers. After a legal ruling last year, Barclays, HSBC, HBOS, Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds TSB have handed over the names and account details of their British customers with accounts based offshore, in places such as the Isle of Man and Jersey.

Following this, HMRC ran a partial amnesty for tax avoiders with cash in offshore accounts. It said that those who came clean would be able to clear any unpaid tax and pay a 10 per cent fine, and have a better chance of avoiding prosecution as a result.

An estimated 55,000 people took the HMRC up on its offer but 45,000 did not. They will now have their tax affairs probed.

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