Revenue strikes deal with tax evaders

by Calum Fuller

More from this author

02 Nov 2012

  • Comments
hmrc-1

SEVERAL TAX EVADERS included on a list passed to the taxman by the French authorities will not be prosecuted and retain their anonymity after they struck deals with the HMRC.

The list, containing 6,000 names of people with secret Swiss bank accounts, was passed to HM Revenue & Customs by its opposite number in France more than two years ago.

Of that number, 500 have since been investigated on suspicion of serious fraud, while only one – property millionaire Michael Shanly – has been convicted after he pleaded guilty.

Shanly paid back about £430,000 in tax and was hit with a £400,000 fine after he hid his mother's money in an HSBC account in Switzerland.

Despite pursuing Shanly – and potentially more – in the courts, the Revenue is offering most secret account-holders immunity in exchange for settling their tax bills and the payment of a penalty.

The bar for criminal investigation is relatively high, with HMRC typically reserving it for use as a wider deterrent and where the conduct involved is "such that only a criminal sanction is appropriate".

An HMRC spokesman told Accountancy Age that its use of the data has been "a major success", with more than 400 individuals choosing to "disclose irregularities under the Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility", while more than 200 individuals "are making disclosures of their tax liabilities direct to the Offshore Co-ordination Unit".

"Some of these cases go back 20 years," he added. "We have successfully prosecuted one individual and further criminal investigations are in the pipeline.

"We expect to recover hundreds of millions of unpaid taxes and our message to anyone who has not come forward is that they should do so now. If they don't, HMRC are clear that they will be relentlessly pursued."

Evaders using overseas accounts face penalties of as much as 200% of the tax owed.

The list was originally released when HSBC IT technician Hervé Falciani stole a disc from the bank's offices in Geneva containing the details of 6,000 UK customers. His flat was later raided by French police, who confiscated the disc. It was then passed on to the French revenue, which went on to share the details with its opposite number in the UK, instead of returning the information to the Swiss.

Some critics are concerned that the fact the list was stolen could be a source of problems for the taxman.

Harry Travers, partner at law firm BCL Burton Copeland, said: "HMRC has to abide by the highest public standards, and I don't think using the fruits of stolen property is part of that.

"The list may be inadmissable [in court] and an abuse of process. The reliability of the material may be in question, too." 

Visitor comments

blog comments powered by Disqus
display:none

Add your comment

We won't publish your address


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms & Conditions

Your comment will be moderated before publication

Submit
  • Send

conservatoire-for-dance-and-drama

Finance-Director-part-time

Conservatoire for Dance and Drama, London, Permanent, Part Time, £60,000 pro rata

 

 

Newsletters

Get the latest financial news sent directly to your inbox

  • Best Practice
  • Business
  • Daily Newsletter
  • Essentials

Careers

Search for jobs
Click to search our database of all the latest accountancy roles

Create a profile
Click to set up your profile and let the best recruiters find you

Jobs by email
Sign up to receive regular updates with the latest roles suitable for you

Briefings

budget-management

Why budgeting fails: One management system is not enough

If budgeting is to have any value at all, it needs a radical overhaul. In today's dynamic marketplace, budgeting can no longer serve as a company's only management system; it must integrate with and support dedicated strategy management systems, process improvement systems, and the like. In this paper, Professor Peter Horvath and Dr Ralf Sauter present what's wrong with the current approach to budgeting and how to fix it.

cchcover

iXBRL: Taking stock. Looking forward

In this white paper CCH provide checklists to help accountants and finance professionals both in practice and in business examine these issues and make plans. Also includes a case study of a large commercial organisation working through the first year of mandatory iXBRL filing.