Spanish tax authorities inspect Twitter to find potential tax dodgers

Spain was also hit by the HSBC scandal, with more than 2,000 Spaniards revealed to hold accounts in Switzerland

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The Independent Online

Spain’s main tax collecting body has used social media to spy on people it believes may be guilty of financial fraud, and the operation continues to expand.

The country’s Inland Revenue agency has reportedly used sites such as Twitter to trace the activities of individuals they believe may be involved in tax evasion, reported.

It comes shortly after the scale of the HSBC scandal was revealed. Stretching across Spain, Britain, Australia and India, among other countries, the document leak exposed thousands of tax avoiders and some evaders who had placed their money in accounts in Switzerland.

The leak, which was reported in Spain by the digital newspaper El Confidential, revealed that 2,694 Spaniards held accounts in Switzerland, with savings totalling €1.8 billion ($2.3bn).

Hacienda, as the organisation headed by Cristóbal Montoro Spain’s minister of Finance and Public Administration is known, will use algorithms to flesh out details garnered from individuals’ public postings.

The organisation will look at online transactions and who suspected individuals associate with online.

Montoro has confirmed that 100,00 ‘inspections’ have already been carried out last year, an increase of 6.8 per cent on the previous year.

However, the government minister has stressed the organisation will only access data – be it pictures, posts, or comments – that has already been made available by the user a social media website.

Spanish authorities have previously deployed social media to great effect. The Madrid police force has the second most Twitter followers (after the FBI) among law enforcement agencies and claims to be the world’s most retweeted government institution.