Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said the U.K. received the first payment under a 5 billion-pound ($7.9 billion) agreement with Switzerland to recoup tax owed to the British Treasury.
Switzerland paid the U.K. tax agency, Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs, 340 million pounds from individuals escaping the British tax system by hiding money in Swiss bank accounts. The agreement, signed between both countries in October 2011, came into force on Jan. 1.
“I can confirm last night that HMRC received 340 million pounds from the Swiss government, the first installment of the deal we have struck and the first time in our history that money due in taxes has flowed from Switzerland to the U.K. instead of the other way round,” Osborne told the House of Commons in London today.
Osborne is seeking to placate lawmakers and voters by preventing rich individuals and large corporations from minimizing tax bills as he drives through the biggest budget cuts since World War II to narrow the nation’s fiscal deficit. The U.K. will put tax avoidance at the top of the agenda of the Group of Eight under its chairmanship of the organization this year.