HMRC are investigating UK taxpayers “connected” to Euro Pacific Bank on the basis that they are suspected of evading UK taxes and associated money laundering offences.
Operation Atlantis began in 2020 when the Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement (known as the J5). His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) of the UK joined tax and law enforcement agencies from Australia, Canada, Netherlands and the United States of America and carried out a global investigation.
The investigation revealed that some customers appeared to be using structures and other international banking institutions and facilitators to evade tax and engage in money laundering offences.
HMRC Investigation – civil or criminal?
Simon York (head of HMRC’s Fraud Investigation and the UK’s Chief of the J5) , has made HMRC’s position very clear:
“We have tax enquiries, criminal investigations and intelligence operations already underway involving this bank and there will be more to come. Anyone with an account at this bank should come and speak to us before we come and speak to you.”
In August 2022, HMRC issued a number of “nudge letters” suggesting that the recipient taxpayers may wish to review their past tax compliance. Some did and opened a dialogue with HMRC. Others did not. Those that did not are the UK taxpayers now receiving a follow up letter offering the taxpayers the Contractual Disclosure Facility (the CDF).
Some UK taxpayers are understood to be already under a criminal investigation. HMRC has the power to obtain and execute search warrants, search premises, make arrests and interview people under caution with a view to criminal prosecutions.
Making a Disclosure
Disclosure may be made without a nudge letter from HMRC through their Worldwide Disclosure Facility (referred to as the WDF).
However, careful consideration must be made as to which disclosure method (CDF or WDF) is appropriate based on the facts of each individual case.
Dependent on the amount of the under declared tax, those successfully prosecuted will most likely face lengthy custodial sentences and confiscation of assets by way of post-conviction proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
What should be done?
The message from HMRC is clear, if you are or were a customer of the Euro Pacific Bank, then come forward and put your tax affairs in order before it is too late. This can be done under the CDF on a civil basis.
Act now and contact me on 07979 313 010. Get it sorted now.
Otherwise, HMRC will come after you. Possibly on a criminal basis.