Britain, U.S., Australia hunt for tax evaders yielding leads

Thu May 9, 2013 5:24pm EDT
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By William James and Patrick Temple-West

LONDON/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A joint effort by Britain, the United States and Australia to track down people who conceal wealth in offshore tax structures has helped identify more than 100 individuals, the UK's tax authority said on Thursday.

"The message is simple: if you evade tax, we're coming after you," said Britain's Finance Minister George Osborne.

After a string of high-profile multinational companies were shown to be paying little or no tax in the UK, Britain has been pushing the European Union and other major economies to clamp down on tax evasion and avoidance.

Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said it had teamed up with Australian and U.S. authorities to help speed up analysis of 400 gigabytes of data they have obtained.

Michael Danilack, a deputy U.S. Internal Revenue Service commissioner said the United States was willing to share this information with other countries.

UK and U.S. officials declined to identify the source of the information.

"This data is another weapon in HMRC's arsenal," Britain's Osborne said.

The data may overlap with data leaked to The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the watchdog group said on Thursday.   Continued...

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne arrives for the Global Investment Conference 2013 in London May 9, 2013. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor