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New Offshore Account Offensive by HMRC – by Siobhain Egan

HM Revenue & Customs have recently announced that they have arrested and interviewed eight individuals under caution in relation to offshore accounts. This is as a result of the formation of an elite specialist investigative sub-directorate of HMRC who will aggressively pursue the so-called ‘abuse’ of offshore accounts.

Thanks to recent international cooperation from foreign counterparts, the Revenue have managed to identify some 500,000 individuals who hold such offshore accounts. They have vowed to prosecute at least nine hundred people per year for tax fraud. Each of these individuals will receive a letter from HMRC demanding information about the offshore account. Note that they are not specifically pursuing the ‘fabulously wealthy’ who have such accounts, it is anyone who holds an account.

The Revenue have two approaches which they can take: firstly a criminal prosecution which can lead to further allegations relating to money laundering, serious fraud, Proceeds of Crime Act offences, convictions and asset confiscation; or alternatively the civil procedure which is known as Code of Practice 9.

The Revenue really do mean business this time. To face either a criminal prosecution or a civil investigation is time consuming, frightening, and can be very expensive in the long-term. It is important that if either you or your client receives a letter from HMRC you immediately instruct both specialist criminal defence solicitors and specialist tax accountants who are used to dealing with the new full-on and aggressive stance being taken by the Revenue. This is turn can save time, stress, criminal proceedings, civil recovery or criminal asset recovery. It can save money, including penalties and interest.

Many of you will have accounts in the family which have been there for generations and have remained untouched for years. This will not exclude you from the Revenue’s investigations.

At Lewis Nedas Law we have a department which is dedicated to the defence of Inland Revenue investigations and prosecutions. We offer a City standard of service at reasonable and realistic pricing levels. We work with leading tax/criminal defence QCs and tax accountants at different pricing levels. If you require any advice please contact Jeffrey Lewis.

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