Newsflash – ‘Revenue staff must be vetted’

Newsflash - 'Revenue staff must be vetted'

The threat of corruption means Inland Revenue staff should be financially vetted, MPs have demanded.

The move follows an inquiry into Revenue practices following the case of Michael Allcock, the high-ranking special compliance officer jailed for five years in 1997 for taking bribes from taxpayers.

Releasing a report on the inquiry on Wednesday 14 April, the Commons public accounts committee called for a wide range of new measures to detect and deter corruption, including a new scheme to enable taxpayers to blow the whistle on corrupt inspectors.

The report said: ‘The Revenue’s current complaint procedures do not appear to include any formal provision for taxpayers or their agents to report concerns about the honesty or conduct of staff on a confidential basis without being victimised.’

Revenue chiefs resisted the idea of financial vetting of staff during a grilling from MPs in parliament last December, arguing that it was impractical and likely to antagonise staff. But the committee said this week it continued to see a case for financial vetting.

The committee also said it was disturbed that one in ten Revenue staff was unaware of the standards of behaviour expected of them and suggested an annual declaration by staff that they had complied with the Revenue’s code of conduct.

The Revenue is suing Allcock for the return of #150,000 in bribes he was found guilty of receiving, but it is unlikely that the full extent of his corruption will ever be known. His work at the special compliance office involved the investigation of sensitive high-profile cases tax fraud, evasion and avoidance.

MPs questioned the leniency of the penalties imposed on five of Allcock’s former colleagues, none of whom were sacked.

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