HMRC Criminal Investigations

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HMRC Criminal Investigation & Criminal Tax

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An HMRC Criminal Investigation will be considered where they suspect that a significant amount of revenue has been lost by way of fraud or another form of deliberate conduct. An HMRC Criminal Investigation, rather than a civil inquiry, will also be conducted when they want to send out a strong deterrent message or where they regard the alleged conduct to be so serious that it is necessary.

It is vital that anyone subjected to an HMRC Criminal Investigation gets specialist representation and advice from a criminal tax lawyer as soon as possible. To protect your position and help make civil disclosure, if appropriate, you should not be idle and wait for HMRC to come.

How our Criminal Tax Lawyers can help

Reasons for an HMRC Investigation

HMRC criminal investigations are likely to occur when HMRC suspects:

Powers of the HMRC Criminal Investigator

The HMRC Criminal Investigator has strong powers. According to the Financial Times, dawn raids by the Financial Conduct Authority are at their highest level in almost a decade, and are often accompanied by the arrest of the taxpayer. Routinely, HMRC will also covertly obtain warrants and court orders to require banks, advisers and even accountants to provide records and financial information about a taxpayer.

HMRC also has the power to apply without notice (ie. behind closed doors) for a Restraint Order under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) to freeze all the assets of the person being investigated until the outcome of the investigation and any subsequent court proceedings.

In the last year, HMRC’s Criminal Investigation team lived up to its previous promise by bringing nearly 1300 tax fraud prosecutions resulting in a total of over 400 years in prison sentences. As well as some high profile, serious cases this confirmed a toughening approach as many cases involved relatively minor tax evasion, VAT evasion, and duty evasion such as tobacco, alcohol smuggling, and fuel duty (especially red diesel).

Confiscation Orders & other powers

The HMRC Criminal Investigation team will always consider additionally seeking a Confiscation Order under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) to obtain the tax involved plus interest, following a successful prosecution. Some very draconian financial assumptions can be made against the individual. A confiscation order is always backed up by a default sentence of imprisonment for non-payment (in addition to any other sentence).

HMRC has also created a new Fraud Investigation Service (from a merger of its previous Specialist Investigations and Criminal Investigations units) and has repeated that they will be active in maintaining a similarly high rate of investigations and prosecutions going forward.

Our HMRC criminal investigation lawyers have significant experience in defending some of the largest tax prosecutions in the country. Their proven track record includes cases with a significant international dimension and multi-million-pound frauds and high profile individuals.


Get in touch

If you are involved in a criminal tax investigation or prosecution from the HMRC, contact our team today and speak to one of our experienced criminal tax lawyers for immediate expert advice and assistance. You can contact our team to request a no-obligation discussion by:

Solicitor or Accountant?

If you are considering instructing an accountant or a solicitor, you should be aware that information you provide to your solicitor enjoys a special status called legal professional privilege.

Your accountant cannot provide this protection, although they may be able to gain it if they are instructed by a solicitor. If there is to be an assessment of the tax due and a report prepared about your tax affairs, we can instruct an accountant on your behalf.

Who Can Help You?

Mark Wilson, Partner at Richard Nelson LLP

Mark Wilson


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What we do...

Our HMRC criminal investigation team comprises of criminal tax lawyer specialists. We are available to provide a rapid and nationwide response to any HMRC criminal investigation inquiry.

We know how to resolve HMRC criminal investigation as quickly as possible, whilst protecting your liberty, reputation and privacy and restricting the financial consequences to you.

  • Immediate response to dawn raids, arrests and interviews under caution;
  • Quickly arrange advice and assistance for you, including meeting as appropriate, for all aspects of tax investigation;
  • Have established close working relationships  with independent tax consultants, forensic tax accountants, and specialist tax barristers, so that we can involve them in your case if necessary;
  • Avoid an HMRC criminal investigation if one has not already started, by an appropriate and carefully managed disclosure to HMRC where appropriate;
  • Minimise the effects of an existing tax fraud investigation and endeavour to convert it to a civil solution;
  • Robustly defend a tax fraud prosecution, including challenging Restraint Orders and Confiscation proceedings;
  • Act for taxpayers anywhere in England and Wales, including in London (but not at London prices).

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