HMRC issued an updated criminal investigation policy

…which describes the kind of circumstances in which HMRC will launch a criminal investigation. As a revenue collection agency, HMRC focuses on dealing with fraud in the most cost-effective way possible, which usually means using its civil fraud procedures wherever appropriate.

Key Points:

  • National Crime Agency and HM Revenue & Customs have both stated they will focus on the role of the professional adviser in allegations of money laundering
  • HMRC received a boost to its criminal powers following the introduction of the failure to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion offences
  • HMRC wants to increase the number of criminal investigations that it undertakes into serious and complex tax crime

Criminal investigation tends to be reserved for cases where HMRC needs to send a strong deterrent message or where the conduct involved is such that only a criminal sanction is appropriate.

HMRC’s policy gives examples of circumstances in which it will pursue criminal rather than civil investigations and makes specific reference to cases involving money laundering, with a particular focus on advisers, accountants, solicitors and others acting in a “professional” capacity.