The tax authorities said this week that banks are free to volunteer
information on offshore accounts, as Lloyds TSB said it would consider its legal
obligations and client confidentiality, should it receive a request – though
none has yet been issued.
The bank’s implication that it would defend any attempt to access similar
information on offshore accounts – like the one faced by Barclays – suggests the
effort to extract the account details could take HM Revenue & Customs years.
Talks with Barclays began in September 2004.
There is no specific timetable for further disclosure orders from other
banks. HMRC plans to process the information in its files, understood to be from
Barclays, before proceeding further.
A spokesman said: ‘We will decide how to proceed then. If the banks don’t
volunteer information we can and do go to the commissioners.’
A spokeswoman for Lloyds TSB said: ‘Should HMRC issue a similar notice to
Lloyds TSB, any response will take full account of our legal obligations and our
duty of confidentiality to our customers.’
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