Criminal investigations

HMRC has a selective criminal prosecution policy and may choose to conduct a civil investigation into a tax fraud, under Code of Practice 9 (COP9).

Criminal investigations

However, where HMRC needs to send a strong deterrent, they will conduct their investigation along criminal lines.

Examples of the kind of circumstances in which HMRC will generally consider commencing a criminal rather than a civil investigation are:

  • in cases of organised criminal gangs attacking the tax system or systematic frauds where losses represent a serious threat to the tax base, including conspiracy
  • where an individual holds a position of trust or responsibility
  • where materially false statements are made or materially false documents are provided in the course of a civil investigation
  • where, pursuing an avoidance scheme, reliance is placed on a false or altered document or such reliance or material facts are misrepresented to enhance the credibility of a scheme
  • where deliberate concealment, deception, conspiracy or corruption is suspected
  • in cases involving the use of false or forged documents
  • in cases involving importation or exportation breaching prohibitions and restrictions
  • in cases involving money laundering with particular focus on advisers, accountants, solicitors and others acting in a ‘professional’ capacity who provide the means to put tainted money out of reach of law enforcement
  • where the perpetrator has committed previous offences there is a repeated course of unlawful conduct or previous civil action
  • in cases involving theft, misuse or un lawful destruction of HMRC documents
  • where there is evidence of assault on, threats to, or the impersonation of HMRC officials
  • where there is a link to suspected wider criminality, whether domestic or international, involving offences not under the administration of HMRC.

When considering whether a case should be investigated under Code of Practice 9 (COP9) procedures or is the subject of a criminal investigation, certain factors to be considered are whether an individual has made a complete and unprompted disclosure of the offences committed or not responded to the offer of the Contractual Disclosure Facility (CDF).

For more information and to arrange a free initial consultation please contact Doug Sinclair.

ICAEW IGAL The Association of Practising Accountants

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