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Taking hostages... chairs!

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On Thursday 12 February 2015 the militants of Bizi! the Basque anti-globalisation association, seized chairs and armchairs from the HSBC branch in Bayonne. While Txetx Etcheverry, co-founder of Bizi! was summoned for "theft during a meeting" at the Bayonne police station yesterday, Tuesday, February 17, Attac France admits to holding part of the booty ... and sends an explicit statement on this new banking scandal.

The action of Bizi! going to take chairs and armchairs from the headquarters of the Hsbc bank in Bayonne and refusing to give them back until this bank reimburses the 2.5 billion it allowed to be embezzled by promoting tax evasion, is flourishing! Several movements, including Attac - but also several organizations fighting against tax havens to show their solidarity - have agreed to take one or more of these chairs. The movement Sol (solidarity currency) is also taking one because it considers itself to be a "good" movement. "to be at the heart of the citizen reappropriation of the currency". 

Background

On Thursday 12 February at 2.30 pm, 17 activists of the Basque anti-globalization group Bizi! seized the headquarters of the HSBC bank branch located on rue Thiers in Bayonne and installed them in the premises of their movement. Before leaving the bank with the seized furniture, to the applause of passers-by and workers from a nearby construction site, the activists handed the bank manager a copy of the "Black Book of Banks" (Editions les Liens qui, libèrent) that ATTAC and Bastamag have just published.

They wanted to denounce the role played by HSBC bank in the organisation of tax evasion in France, after the revelations of the daily newspaper Le Monde of Tuesday 10 Februarywhich reveals that they "are more than 100,000 - showbiz stars, captains of industry, heads of state, traffickers of all kinds - to have benefited from the HSBC bank's tax evasion scheme. "They are also "how more than 180 billion euros transited through Geneva via the Swiss subsidiary of the British bank between 2006 and 2007. "At the origin of this scandal, a USB key given to the newspaper by a person whose anonymity Le Monde insists on preserving. More than 100,000 bank accounts were held on this key. The French daily called on the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists to help it uncover this considerable mass of information. Thus, 154 journalists, working for prestigious media, set to work, from last September onwards, in the greatest secrecy, for this operation baptised Swissleaks .

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Attac's action

"We asked Bizi! to provide us with three of HSBC's chairs to give us a better foothold in our fight against tax evasion and the power of the banks. We are also asking to be heard by the police on charges of theft during meetings.

Between November 2006 and March 2007, 5.7 billion euros from French taxpayers transited via HSBC to tax havens. Since these were obviously wealthy individuals, subject in principle to the marginal income tax rate of 45%, HSBC lost at least EUR 2.5 billion, excluding penalties, to the French budget over that period alone. Attac joins Bizi! in demanding repayment of this sum to the French tax authorities.
Until such time as HSBC has repaid, we will use these chairs to do a better job of exposing banks that, like HSBC but also BNP Paribas with its subsidiaries in the Cayman IslandsThe French government was stripped of its assets and imposed austerity policies on the population. »

"Tax evasion in France costs the State 60 to 80 billion euros each year". 

That's what Jon Palais, spokesman for Bizi, said..: "The financing of an energy transition law with a minimum of ambition would require 30 to 40 billion euros. This shows the importance of these figures and the catastrophic consequences of this criminal phenomenon, which is drying up public finances. HSBC allows the richest to steal from the community to the detriment of crèches, housing, schools, health care or public transport. In short, it is Robin Hood in reverse, stealing from the poor so that the rich can have even more. »
"We call on the population to act to demand an immediate end to this plundering of public finances. » said for her part Sabrina Ravetta, another representative of the Bizi! activists. "In our view, the assets and property of HSBC, which knowingly organised this large-scale robbery, must be immediately seized and made available to the public authorities and the population. We are setting an example today: the recovered chairs will be installed at our association's head office and will contribute to our public action in support of energy transition and the fight against climate change. »

Here's a non-violent action for a very clear demand... Breaking news: Txetx Etcheverry walked out of Bayonne police station Tuesday without charge for the time being. Bizi! undertook to hand over the five missing chairs to the HSBC bank as soon as the latter returns to the State the 2.5 billion euros it stole from it (within the 5 months concerned by the facts revealed by the newspaper Le Monde). In the meantime, the chairs will be made available to associations and NGOs fighting against tax evasion. "The ball is now in the bank's court," concluded the Basque anti-globalization activist.
(Source: Article " HSBC Action: 5 chairs are still running "Bizi! February 18, 2015) 

Even though 31,000 requests for tax regularisation have been registered to date by the service for processing corrective declarations (STDR) since its creation in June 2013; even if in 2013, the fight against tax fraud and evasion made it possible to recover more than 10 billion euros, i.e. 1 billion euros more than in 2012 and even if 8 billion euros of revenue from this fight are planned for the State in 2014, the case is far from over... 

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