HMRC failed to act on a whistleblower’s tax evasion email because they thought it was a marketing campaign.
Hervé Falciani alerted the authorities to HSBC’s alleged tax evasion services in 2008, but officials dismissed it as just another spam email from the bank offering ‘exciting opportunities to save money’.
An HMRC spokesman said: “We get these sorts of emails all the time. HSBC has been trying to sign our staff up to tax evasion for years. So we tend to just read them and then delete them.
“Can you imagine if someone connected with the government had actually used HSBC’s services? That would be quite the state of affairs, would it not?”
HMRC have now offered to re-examine the email ‘to see how different it was from the other HSBC emails’.
The spokesman added: “We want to see whether it had lots of exclamation marks and included phrase ’this is not marketing campaign’. If it didn’t then it’s really not our fault.
“Also, the guy who sent it sounds like he might be French.”