December 17 2012.

Hundreds of people in the UK who have Swiss bank accounts are to be given a last chance to pay any tax due, or face investigation. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is writing to the account-holders this week to warn them that, if they ignore the opportunity, they could face penalties in certain circumstances of up to 150 per cent of the actual taxes owed. This is the third tranche of letters to UK taxpayers who were found to have accounts with Swiss banks.

Jennie Granger, HMRC's Director General Enforcement and Compliance, said: "The government has made £77 million available to tackle the minority who refuse to play by the rules, so if you have been hiding money offshore to evade tax, it is only a matter of time before we find you.

"We are working carefully through the offshore data we have received and this work has so far brought in £100 million in unpaid tax that would otherwise have remained lost to the UK.

"The ground-breaking agreement between the UK and the Swiss Confederation which is about to come into force will bring in up to £5 billion in tax revenue to the UK. We will use the technology, data and skills at our disposal to tackle those who engage in offshore evasion. The net is closing in.

"The people receiving the letter will not be offered any special opportunity. We are offering them this last chance to come forward voluntarily or face the consequences."