Santander chief executive investigated for tax evasion

Tax accountants may be interested to learn that it’s not only HMRC in the UK that is getting tough on tax evaders. Santander UK’s chief executive, Ana Botín, is being investigated by the tax authorities in Spain over allegations of tax evasion.

As well as Ms Botín, another 11 members of her family are under investigation. At the centre of the allegations is a Swiss bank account in the name of her father, Emilio Botín, who is chairman of the Santander group. Details of the account came to light when clients’ records were leaked by a former member of HSBC’s private banking unit in Switzerland.

The Botín family claims to have already paid £176 million in settlement of outstanding tax liabilities on the trust, which was set up in December 1936 by Ana’s grandfather when he fled the civil war in Spain.

After the leaks, investigations were launched into more than 600 Spanish citizens with bank accounts in Switzerland.

A lawyer speaking on behalf of the Botín family said the family had volunteered to normalise the tax situation and has complied with all its obligations.

The UK government is on the brink of signing an agreement with the Swiss authorities to clamp down on tax avoidance and evasion. It is thought that up to £125 billion could have been salted away in Swiss bank accounts by UK citizens who want to avoid paying their taxes to HM Treasury.

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