Offences: extra-territorial application and jurisdiction

Criminal Finances Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:15 am on 22nd November 2016.

Alert me about debates like this

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

With this it will be convenient to discuss clause 41 stand part.

Photo of Ben Wallace Ben Wallace Minister of State (Home Office) (Security)

Clause 40 provides for the extraterritorial application of the corporate failure to prevent offences. The UK’s criminal courts will have jurisdiction to try the domestic tax offence in clause 37, regardless of where the conduct took place. The UK courts claim jurisdiction as a result of the UK suffering the tax loss. With respect to the foreign tax offence, our courts again claim jurisdiction on the basis that the relevant body has a nexus with the UK, such that it can be regarded as part of UK plc and thus is required to abide by the criminal law of this country. We have seen, and our partners in other jurisdictions have confirmed that they have also seen, that those deliberately facilitating tax evasion will typically offshore illicit services to try to avoid detection and to hide in the gaps between domestic legal systems.

Those facilitating offshore tax evasion often do not provide those services from within the geographic borders of the country whose tax loss they are facilitating. It is therefore vital that both the domestic and the overseas tax evasion facilitation offences capture activity that takes place outside the United Kingdom. Failure to apply the laws in such a way would lead to loopholes that could be easily exploited. By its very nature, the foreign tax evasion offence is likely to raise a complicated range of competing interests and issues, including those relating to international relations and diplomatic affairs.

Clause 41 puts appropriate safeguards in place by requiring that a decision to prosecute the offence is taken only by, or with the authority of, the director of these prosecuting bodies: the Director of Public Prosecutions, the director of the Serious Fraud Office or the Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland. A similar protection is in place for prosecutions for the corporate failure to prevent bribery under section 7 of the Bribery Act. I hope the clauses stand part of the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 40 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 41 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 42