French bank BNP Paribas has lost a £35 million tax case after a tribunal ruled in favour of HMRC over the use of a tax avoidance scheme using share dividends. The bank had tried a 'dividend stripping' ruse by claiming a contrived loss on the buying and sale of dividends, HMRC said. The case covers activities dating back as far as 2005.
The bank said it "respects the decision" and had already paid the money back ahead of the confirmation of the tribunal's verdict. It will not be appealing the ruling, saying it pays its taxes "fully in accordance with UK legislation" and has a "wholly transparent" working relationship with HMRC.
HMRC's director general for customer compliance Penny Ciniewicz remarked: "Tax avoidance doesn't pay. This decision adds to the comprehensive run of wins by HMRC in which the courts have found against the small minority of taxpayers who seek to avoid tax.