Thursday, November 03, 2011

Letter to the FT: our analysis of the UK-Swiss analysis is rock solid

We sent this letter to the Financial Times on Monday, in response to Vanessa Houlder's article about our widely reported analysis of the UK-Swiss tax deal, but they have now told us that it won't make it into their crowded letters page. We reproduce the letter below.

In summary, we think this letter shows that our analysis is watertight. Nobody anywhere has identified a single specific fault.

Sir,

In her article about our report on the loophole-riddled UK-Swiss tax deal, Vanessa Houlder asserts that much of the disagreement over the merits of the deal revolves around the likelihood of Switzerland ever providing automatic exchange of information with other countries. People may argue about that, but our report hinges on no such thing.

She quotes Bill Dodwell of Deloitte as saying some of our concerns are ‘exaggerated and unfounded.’ I have now had some correspondence [supplied to FT editors] with him but he has not rebutted anything specific in our report, saying merely that he trusts HMRC and suggesting that our analysis rests on Switzerland opening up. He also claims that revenue projections from the separate Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility back up his case. Why he thinks data from the (very different, and much tighter) agreement with Liechtenstein should be a better guide to expected future Swiss revenues than the relevant Swiss historical data – which are the basis for our calculations - is a complete mystery.

Greece and several other countries are considering copying this fatally flawed Swiss model – thus entrenching secrecy while raising next to no revenue. This issue is clearly of vast importance to beleaguered taxpayers in Europe and elsewhere – and our report should not be dismissed with casual and unfounded remarks. Nobody, anywhere has provided a substantive and credible rebuttal of a single point in our report. Your expert readers are invited to have a go. It’s on our website.

Nicholas Shaxson
Tax Justice Network; author of Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men Who Stole the World
Interested readers can contact us if they want to see Dodwell's comments, which he kindly gave us permission to publish.

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