Criminal Investigations Policy

It is HMRC’s stated policy to deal with fraud by use of the cost effective civil fraud investigation procedures under Code of practice 9 wherever appropriate. The Criminal Investigations Policy will followed in 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 reserves complete discretion to conduct a criminal investigation in any case and to carry out these investigations across a range of offences and in all the areas for which the Commissioners of HMRC have responsibility.

Examples where a criminal prosecution will be considered

There are certain fiscal offences where HMRC will not usually adopt the civil fraud investigation procedures under COP9, for example:

  • VAT ‘bogus’ registration repayment fraud
  • organised Tax Credit fraud
Examples where a criminal prosecution may be considered

These include cases where:

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

One factor that will be key in determining whether a criminal investigation is undertaken or not is whether the taxpayer(s) has made a complete and unprompted disclosure of the offences committed.

Help is at hand

If you would like to discuss this matter further, please contact me at or on 07979 313 010.

Main menu