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UK mulling new tax evasion law after HSBC scandal

British government is mulling a new law to penalise companies, banks as well as accountants who help people evade tax, in a crackdown on corporate tax evasion in the wake of HSBC tax-dodging scandal.

Liberal Democrat chief secretary to the treasury Danny Alexander said he aims to introduce a new offence for firms that fail to act to prevent economic crime.

“We should create a new offence of corporate failure to avoid preventing an economic crime and also that organisations who facilitate or encourage evasion should face the same penalty as the evaders themselves,” Alexander told BBC.

Alexander, the number two to finance minister George Osborne, described it as a “Liberal Democrat idea” but intends to try to push the proposals through before May’s general election.

If he cannot, they will form a key part of the Liberal Democrat manifesto.

“Organisations, be they accountants, banks or whatever, who help people evade tax will be liable for this new offence and crucially liable for financial penalties,” he added.

Alexander’s comments came amid allegations that London-based HSBC’s Swiss private banking arm helped clients in more than 200 countries evade tax on accounts containing nearly USD 204 billion.

The tax-evasion scandal has caused a political storm in the UK before a tightly-fought general elections.

Alexander’s centrist Liberal Democrats are currently part of a coalition government with Prime Minister David Cameron’s centre-right Conservative party.

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