New Zealanders who savoured the privacy of their Swiss HSBC bank accounts will continue to enjoy it from Inland Revenue, which won't reveal whether information from leaked files lifted any locals' tax bills.
IRD confirmed yesterday it had already investigated the information in the files, which were made public this week by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and showed HSBC helped wealthy customers around the world avoid taxes and hide millions of dollars.
The files reveal that one HSBC client with links to New Zealand had up to US$50 million ($67.83 million) with its Swiss private banking arm.
The client is one of 110 people or entities linked to this country that had Swiss HSBC accounts holding as much as US$152 million in total in 2006/2007.
While IRD said it had investigated information in files as part of its "regular offshore programme of work", it would not reveal if this had resulted in reassessment of tax bills This was because of a possible confidentiality breach, given "the small size of the population involved" and the fact names had surfaced in the media. The ICIJ personally named only one New Zealander from the files, the late Court of Appeal judge Sir Ian Lloyd McKay.
A former president of the Electoral Commission, McKay died last year
According to the ICIJ, McKay was linked to two client accounts at HSBC. One held no money in 2006/2007, the other listed five bank accounts holding a total of US$31,118 at that time. The ICIJ said the files did not reveal McKay's role with the accounts.
The consortium said that legitimate uses for Swiss bank accounts exist and it did not intend to imply those in the files had "broken the law or otherwise acted improperly".