The CBC's Diana Swain, Investigative Reporter, took us inside the world of mega-bank accounts stored in Swiss Bank Accounts. avoiding taxes by their owners in various countries, including Canada.
It was a former HSBC Private Bank employee whose job was to provide security for these accounts who turned whistle-blower on the evasion, after repeated attempts to get his bosses to change the system.
Although he has fled to Nice, France, to escape prosecution by the Swiss authorities, a prosecutor there, when shown the information on some 80,000 accounts that RobinHood secretly loaded into his private computer, tells the CBC's Swain that he believes his source is credible.
Also interviewed by Swain was Don Johnson, former cabinet minister in Pierre Trudeau's government, and former head of the OECD, who asked whether keeping these large funds out of the reach of tax collectors was "right," implying his support for a change in bank practice and ethics.
So far, Canada Revenue, upon issuing an invitation to Swiss account holders who may have used these accounts to avoid paying taxes here in Canada, has received some $600 million voluntarily and expects at least that much more to come in voluntarily.
Both the British and the Italian governments have asked for and received their own copies of the details of the accounts, enabling them to pursue their citizens who may have hidden vast sums from the tax collectors in those countries. One can only assume that there will be other countries learning about their citizens who have avoided paying taxes on these large accounts, as the details become public.
It is the confidentiality of the Swiss Bank owners and operators that is a significant part of the problem here. Their complicity in protecting their clients from taxes in their native countries has led those clients to welcome the anonymity previously guaranteed by the Swiss banks, whose faces are now covered with the proverbial "egg" of public embarrassment. Some people even have threatened the life and safety of the whistle-blower.
Link this story to the European strikes in Spain, Germany and Ireland today where ordinary citizens are protesting their governments' attempts to reduce debt by various measures mostly directly at ordinary workers, and not directed at the banks who have failed their clients and we see a growing consciousness in the public arena that spells real trouble for the large financial interests on the continent.
Will that discontent, verging on civic disruption, move across the Atlantic to both Canada and the U.S. where large corporations and financial sector corporations especially, have betrayed their clients, most especially in the U.S. and profited through their addictive pursuit of personal and corporate greed?