Siobhain Egan has been instructed by a Director of offshore trusts, subject to a joint NCA/HMRC operation. This arose following earlier international arrests concerning a multi million VAT fraud which was precipitated by the release of the Panama Papers.
HMRC announced in April 2016 that they would immediately and aggressively investigate the huge amount of information affecting UK Nationals.
We have been asked to advise individuals who have made voluntary disclosures to HMRC about monies and assets off shore, who intend to bring the same on shore and by those concerned about criminal investigations and prosecutions.
The Revenue have no qualms about how this data was obtained or seemingly any concerns about the potential admissibility of the evidential material; it was effectively stolen after the law firm at the centre of the leak, Mossack Fonseca, was apparently hacked and the information passed to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
We know following the Swiss HSBC information theft in 2010, one individual was prosecuted by HMRC (successfully represented by Jeffrey Lewis of this firm) using information which showed that many hundreds of UK nationals held secret Swiss bank accounts.
We expect HMRC to adopt the same bullish approach with the Panama Papers, confident that the likely response to any legal arguments re exclusion of stolen evidence will be rejected by the Courts, and that the material will be deemed relevant and therefore admissible, regardless of the circumstances surrounding its acquisition.
In the HSBC investigation, HMRC were clear that they had not paid for the Swiss HSBC information and they would appear to be very sensitive about that particular issue, as we saw after the Julius Baer bank information theft in 2012, when HMRC released a very carefully worded response to that incident that they 'would not actively seek to acquire customer data stolen from the Swiss bank' because the employee responsible for the theft was paid by another tax authority for the information.
As yet, nobody knows the full circumstances of the Leaking of the Mossack Fonseca material.