Swiss HSBC aided tax evasion
The Swiss arm of the British HSBC bank reportedly concealed more than 75 billion euros of undeclared funds belonging to foreign clients. The revelations were published on Sunday by an international investigative consortium. Time for the EU to finally put a halt to tax evasion, some commentators say. For others the outrage over Swiss tax practices is pure hypocrisy.
EU must monitor states more stringently
The EU must finally crack down on the monster that is tax evasion, demands the left-liberal daily Politiken: "The hope is now justified that following a series of articles about Lux Leaks and now Swiss Leaks politicians will have to address the problem of multinationals and wealthy individuals who do all they can to avoid paying taxes at home. The European Commission seems to be taking the task seriously - although admittedly it's problematic that the Commission chief also happened to be Luxembourg's head of government for many years, and is directly compromised. The EU must tighten its standards for countries that get rich at the expense of others. If the world's second-largest bank, HSBC, now assumes responsibility for previous violations of standards and rules it will already be a step in the right direction."
Swiss leaks compromises Switzerland
The Swiss leaks revelations not only expose the HSBC's corrupt business practices but also compromise Switzerland itself, the state-owned broadcaster Deutschlandfunk writes: "The friendly HSBC adviser was always there to help when it came to laundering dirty proceeds from civil wars and diamond smuggling. And almost certainly with the tacit consent - if not full knowledge - of their bosses. ... Is it conceivable that despots, financial backers of terrorism and tax dodgers from all over the world could stash their money in Switzerland without the authorities knowing? Hardly. Swiss leaks puts a very bright spotlight on a small state for which tax evasion and money laundering has been a lucrative business for decades. And apparently still is. Because the only investigation currently underway in Switzerland in connection with Swiss leaks is not against the HSBC bank. It's against the man who leaked the Swiss leaks data: whistleblower Hervé Falciani."
Journalists stirrup holders of tax investigators
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) based its Swiss Leaks revelations on data passed on to French investigators by a former HSBC employee. This testifies to a dangerous closeness between state power and press, the liberal daily Corriere del Ticino comments: "Swiss Leaks is anything but investigative journalism. The data was neither researched nor uncovered by journalists but passed on by an entity that has no journalistic interests but is only pursuing economic and political goals. The entity in this case is the tax investigators of the French government, which used the international research consortium the ICIJ to disseminate the data. Governments and intelligence services now know that they can count on this consortium, which is willing to spread data and information as deemed opportune by the government and its intelligence services to serve their own interests."
Outrage over Swiss Leaks hypocritical
The indignation about the undeclared bank accounts at the HSBC is pure hypocrisy, protests the conservative daily The Irish Independent: "There's nothing noble about the Swiss banking system; it is a gigantic conspiracy to keep wealth away from governments but it is hardly any worse than our own tax laws which permit schemes such as the Double Irish that helps companies and individuals to funnel their money well away from the tax man. This is what small countries do. Luxembourg. Liechtenstein. The Netherlands. Malta. Ireland. Andorra. Switzerland. Big countries frown, wag their fingers and then pass legislation so full of loopholes that their largest companies and wealthiest individuals can exploit tax regimes in places like Ireland."