Dave Hartnett, permanent secretary at HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), told the BBC that the advice was ‘incredibly irresponsible’. HMRC is said to be investigating the incident after the BBC handed over its footage. An HMRC spokeswoman said: ‘Dave Hartnett has agreed to look at the evidence the BBC has gathered.’ The Panorama investigation into off-shore banking also looked into Northern Rock, which was bailed out with £27billion of taxpayers’ money at the start of the banking crisis in 2008. A banker from Northern Rock in Guernsey told Panorama’s undercover customer that he could avoid the EU tax rules by opening an account in the name of a non-trading company.
The banker said the customer should inform the Inland Revenue, but the BBC claimed the bank itself keeps the details secret from the taxman. Northern Rock denied its subsidiary is behaving inappropriately and said it informs and reminds all account holders that they are responsible for declaring the interest earned from their savings to their relevant tax authority.