Panama Is Not Very Far Away The HMRC Task Force Are Already There !!!
The fallout from the office raids at the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca is gathering pace as the UK Government ups its game. The National Crime Agency (NCA) and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) are investigating.
A Government task force has been set up and is sifting through huge amounts of data which has been recovered. A Joint Financial Analysis Centre has been created and is using the latest techniques to analyse the data which has been gathered.
With this kind of investment (£800million was added in the 2015 budget), the clear message is that the Government is serious and there is no doubt that it will expect a return by way of monies recovered, well in excess of the expenditure. We understand that the Government aims to recover £7.2 billion in tax within the next five years!
The task force is known to be looking at tax evasion issues and is believed to have Identified more than 40 high net worth individuals to investigate with others no doubt to follow. They have identified offshore companies involved in tax evasion and other crimes. Some of these companies are in effect controlled in the UK. Others have property Investments in the UK. What is not so well-known is that the task force is also concentrating on professionals and entrepreneurs who ‘enable economic crime’ and have helped to conceal dishonest financial activity. Professionals who do not make suspicious activity reports when they should or assist in hiding the true beneficial owners of companies are also targets.
Against this background it seems strange that many companies and individuals are putting their heads in the sand and ignoring the likelihood of criminal charges being brought against them. These would be in addition to applications in the civil courts to recover money or property or applications to disqualified directors or seize money. By delaying in consulting experienced criminal defence solicitors used to handling commercial crime such as Tax Evasion and Fraud many entrepreneurs and their advisors are going down paths which may seem appropriate at present but they have wholly failed to take into account what will be needed later in the day.
Those being investigated, some of whom may not yet be aware of it, may well find one day that their assets have been frozen and they cannot use their money. Whilst they may go to court to vary an injunction or restraint order they will find that they are barred out from using those monies to defend themselves in a criminal court despite the fact that they could use those very same funds to deal with issues of insolvency or civil litigation.
The reason we are pointing this out and writing this blog is of course to promote the services of individuals and the teams at Ralli Solicitors LLP. We are able to point out the successful defence of many financially based prosecutions taken by the SFO, HMRC and other prosecuting authorities.
The early days are key to an acquittal. In cases like this we need to be briefed well before attending an interview under caution Thee early interviews are of fundamental importance and will affect what happens later. Key decisions have to be made going well beyond whether or not to answer questions or produce documents. In order to make correct decisions they have to be informed decisions. We will look to work in harmony with you and any other professionals instructed in order to reach the right conclusions using our knowledge and experience which counts for a great deal. So if you think you might be raided or have decided to ‘take the chance that you hopefully or even probably will be below the radar why not run it past us taking the benefit of legal privilege, (which accountants for example do not have) and be safe in the knowledge that what we discuss will be kept confidential, within the well established rules of privilege..
Material facts supplied by www.gov.uk, Ministerial update to the House of Commons and HMRC