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Posted by portugalpress on July 06, 2018

When it broke in 2015, Portuguese media talked about 600 “rich Portuguese” who between them had €900 million snaffled away in Switzerland at HSBC bank in what became known as the Swissleaks scandal (click here).

There was even a Portuguese tax inspector, with a purported €2.3 million lodged in a personal account (click here).

Newspapers went into overdrive at the prospect of previously-shielded VIPs being parted with undeclared cash.

But three years on we’re told that the Portuguese tax department has managed to recoup very little. Of the fantastical €900 million, inspectors have only got their hands on €272,000. In percentage terms that’s just 0.3% of the dizzying initial total.

Say reports, this is because most of the account holders involved "have taken advantage of tax amnesties promoted by the governments of José Sócrates and Pedro Passos Coelho".

Indeed, according to Expresso, when the scandal broke “most of the people identified had closed their accounts and adhered to successive RERTs” (fiscal amnesties of 2005, 2010 and 2015).

These RERTs involved “repatriating” the money (to Portugal) in exchange low fees (starting as low as 2.5% of total values, increasing over the years to 7.5%).

Among many who took up the amnesties was former BES boss Ricardo Salgado.

Said Expresso in an article written in 2014, just the 2010 RERT saw over 1.6 billion come home to roost, netting the Portuguese government almost €83 million.

One of many perks of RERT was that identities were kept from the taxman. Only the Bank of Portugal knew who the State was dealing with.

Thus all those account holders have bypassed Swissleaks’ bottom line, leaving simply ‘the straggler’s who ended up having to pay the Portuguese authorities a paltry €272,000.

The money, we’re told today, was seized as a result of “50 actions of investigation” relating to 88 account holders.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com

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