Tax Evasion

HM Treasury written question – answered on 9th October 2017.

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Photo of Margaret Hodge Margaret Hodge Labour, Barking

To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, how many UK nationals have (a) been prosecuted and (b) received a prison sentence for offences related to the Panama Papers data leak.

Photo of Mel Stride Mel Stride Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster General

Since the last update to Parliament in November 2016, HMRC has tripled the number of criminal and civil investigations linked to the Panama papers.

To date, the work of the Panama Papers Taskforce has led to civil and criminal investigations into 66 individuals for suspected tax evasion, including high net worth individuals. As part of this HMRC has made four arrests; and carried out six interviews under caution.

Taskforce partners have made three arrests in relation to an organised crime group suspected of a £125m conspiracy to defraud pension investors, tax evasion and associated money laundering. They have also identified leads relevant to a major insider trading operation, in relation to which a number of individuals have been arrested and are on bail pending further activity.

UK law enforcement continues to interrogate and exploit Panama Papers related data, identifying previously unknown individuals, companies and properties, making links between them and providing intelligence and investigative opportunities.

The systems used to launder money and evade tax through offshore structures are complex and highly sophisticated. The Joint Financial Analysis Centre and HMRC’s expert analysts are using leading-edge technology to unpick these structures and trace them back to individuals. This work is painstaking and forensic and there are no easy shortcuts.

HMRC is not a prosecuting authority. Its focus is on building the strongest possible cases in order to secure convictions, and it expects to refer cases to the prosecuting authorities from autumn 2017 onwards.

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