Israel Tax Authority head Moshe Asher dropped a bombshell this morning and revealed that the Tax Authority has obtained a new list of Israelis who hold accounts in another Swiss bank, in addition to UBS.
The statements were made at a special conference being held today by the Tel Aviv District branch of the Israel Bar Association, on the topic of the war against black capital, at the Carlton Tel Aviv Hotel.
Participating in the first session, “The UBS list - Is this the end of the Swiss-bank-account dream?,” were Tax Authority head Moshe Asher, Credit Suisse Israel CEO Doron Averbuch, Israel Money Laundering and Terror Financing Prohibition Authority legal advisor Dr. Shlomit Wagman, and accountant Gidi Bar-Zakay. The session was led by "Calcalist" legal correspondent Adv. Moshe Gorali. Before the session began, Israel Bar Association Tel Aviv District Committee chair Efi Nave said that in his next term, he plans to fight the restrictions and obligations imposed upon lawyers to report on their clients to the Money Laundering Prohibition Authority.
“On the Swiss topic, we have opened an investigation regarding UBS. A very successful investigation, we obtained a list of Israelis - there are a lot of names. The investigation is still underway, and we will soon see activity having to do with that list,” said Asher. “In addition, we are trying to obtain more lists, from more banks. I can now say that we have another list from an additional Swiss bank. We are working on it on an intelligence and investigative level.”
Asher spoke also of the obligations to other authorities: “We have signed agreements, we have partnerships, and in the coming months we will make our first information exchanges. We are already preparing for this operationally.”
Not just the Tax Authority
Israel Money Laundering and Terror Financing Prohibition Authority legal advisor Dr. Shlomit Wagman also revealed for the first time that it is not only the Tax Authority that is receiving information about Israelis holding Swiss bank accounts: “There are authorities for the prohibition of money laundering in every country. The information is passed between all the places around the world that have authorities. We have partnerships with the US authorities, based on the new laws, and also the authorities in Switzerland are entitled to ask the banks for information, and to pass it on to other authorities, including to us.”
Wagman further said that offshore countries are quick to transmit information when they suspect there are violations: “They are afraid that they will be held as accomplices, and they are the ones who report. The offshores are the primary reporters.”
Adv. Uri Goldman said, “Of course we need to do everything possible to fight black capital and tax evasion in Israel. But at the same time, the sense is that in terms of the authorities, there are no stops, and there is no foot on the brakes. Since it was announced, the war on black capitals is floating like a black cloud over all business activity in the economy, even before there is any capital, and even if it isn’t black. The base assumption has become such that every action, every deal, and any capital, is from the get-go, by definition, illegitimate - for the purpose of money laundering, or evading taxes, or both. Of course this is not actually the case. We must beware of activity that harms the rights of the citizens, harms the operations of businesses, and harms the professions of those involved.”
Accountant Gidi Bar-Zakay spoke of the reality created for the taxpayers, “The Tax Authority’s goal is addressing the problem of evidence in the voluntary disclosure process in the right way. But the goal is for there to be an equal burden in the voluntary disclosure process, so that a businessman with a Swiss bank account and a Holocaust survivor won’t pay the same tax rate. Today, there is no distinction, and no difference. As soon as we do this, we will be happy in assets, and also with the right moral result. There is evidence. I recommend that the Tax Authority think also with the heart. Anyone who lies - should be tried in a court of law. For everyone else, they should make peace of mind possible. I don’t want Holocaust survivors and criminals to pay the same tax rate.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on May 6, 2015
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