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Yeah, we’re all in this together?
So said the reader who recommended the Guardian article by Rajeev Syal which reveals the scale of the government’s “sweetheart” tax deals – individual secret agreements drawn up between tax officials and corporations to settle disputes.
Another whistleblower revelation
A leaked document sent by Dave Hartnett, the former head of tax at HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), to David Gauke, the exchequer secretary at the Treasury, discloses a figure of £4.5bn for four settlements.
Conflict of interest: the government’s civil servant too close to the corporate world
Two years ago the Telegraph and others reported that Dave Hartnett, during his service as ‘permanent secretary for tax’ at HM Revenue & Customs, was entertained 107 times by some of the UK’s biggest banks.
These included law firms and accountancy firms and other corporates, amongst them, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Ernst & Young, KPMG, PriceWaterhouse Coopers and Deloitte.
In January he was hired by HSBC to help to enforce the highest standards in dealing with international money transfers.
The leaked document describes deals in excess of £1bn as “not uncommon”.
The disclosures about the multibillion-pound scale of the government’s deals come from a seven-page memo sent by Hartnett in December 2011 as he asked for public support from Gauke in the face of growing criticism in the media and parliament.
Margaret Hodge, the chair of the Commons public accounts committee, said: “If we got £4.5bn in, how much did we not get? That is what taxpayers will want to know, and I’ll be raising this with HMRC through the committee.
Whistleblower protected? No: treated like serious criminal
Separate documents disclosed in the Guardian show that tax officials used intrusive investigative powers designed to help them catch serious criminals to try to prove that the whistleblower who uncovered one of the first sweetheart deals, involving Goldman Sachs, had spoken to the Guardian.
Read more about HMRC’s draconian action against its whistleblower and deals with Vodafone and Goldman Sachs here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2013/apr/29/sweetheart-tax-deals
Posted in Banking and finance, Civil servants, Conflict of interest, Corporate political nexus, Democracy undermined, Government, Lobbying, Parliamentary failure, Revolving door, Reward for failure, Secret State, Vested interests, Whistleblowers