An Indian-origin board member of the influential UK India Business Council said he is rethinking the role of off-shore tax havens in the current economic climate after being included in a list of 1,000 names handed over to British tax authorities probing tax havens.
The names of Alpesh Patel, who advises the UK Trade and Industry department on India, and former Wimbledon footballer John Fashanu are in a vast database of off-shore entities handed over to the Revenue & Customs department. Leading banks and financial institutions such as Coutts and Goldman Sachs also figure on the list.
The database, which names individuals and companies in tax havens such as Singapore, the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and Cook Islands, is believed to have been passed on by a whistleblower since 2009, the Sunday Times reported.
Patel, who like Fashanu denies receiving any tax advantage, told Hindustan Times that he was just following received wisdom by investing in a tax haven in 2005, but that he would probably not go down the same route on Sunday.
“In my industry there are those who are hard core, who don’t care about their moral obligations to reduce tax liability,” said Patel, who runs an asset management firm in Mayfair, central London.
“Then there’s rest who changed their view, who are saying ‘given the dire straits the country is in, I won’t make excuses.’ Morally, nobody can point a finger at me.”
“My view has changed since the credit crunch. It strikes me it was immoral,” he said. The leaks come amid a strong UK attempt to check tax avoidance by MNCs. On Sunday, The G7 group – Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US – agreed that there must be collective action against tax evasion and avoidance.