Companies being investigated for failure to prevent facilitation of tax evasion 

The Criminal Finances Act, which came into force in September 2017, introduced the requirement for businesses to have reasonable procedures to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion. If you do not feel that your organisation complies with the Criminal Finances Act, it is important to start a thorough risk assessment of all areas of your business operations. Organisations must also draw up an implementation plan that includes training on the Criminal Finances Act.

The UK government periodically announces investigations being undertaken under the Corporate Criminal Offences (CCO).

How can criminal facilitation of tax evasion occur?

Criminal facilitation can occur even without knowledge of the business. If an employee or contractor is helping facilitate tax evasion, then the business can be prosecuted if they fail to have reasonable procedures in place to prevent it.

While some businesses may feel that they aren’t at great risk or their employees would never do something like that, without reasonable procedures in place, the business remains wide open to possible prosecution. At minimum, a risk assessment would need to be completed to defend the decision of taking no additional action.

What investigations under the Corporate Criminal Offence are underway?

HMRC is currently investigating 28 potential breaches of the corporate criminal offence under the Criminal Finances Act.

There are 7 live CCO investigations. No decisions on charging have yet been made.

A further 21 live opportunities are under review by HMRC. A further 69 opportunities for prosecution have been reviewed and rejected. HMRC are clear that not every opportunity will lead to an investigation and not every investigation will lead to a charging decision.

HMRC have announced the companies under investigation span 11 different sectors including software providers, labour provision, accountancy, legal services and transport.

It can be the case that following an investigation, HMRC is satisfied with the explanations provided by the businesses and they have not established deliberate facilitation. Sometimes though, investigations uncover other tax and regulatory offences and those will be pursued. 

The reasonable procedures checklist

If you are not sure how to implement reasonable procedures, here is a short checklist:

  • Assess the nature and extent of the risk of tax evasion. What do existing procedures cover and do they mitigate the potential risk?
  • Assess internal procedures and staff reporting obligations to ensure they are adequate and fulfill obligations imposed by your regulator.
  • Deliver training to frontline staff on how to spot potential tax evasion.
  • Ensure financial teams understand tax evasion, how to spot and investigate it, and they are empowered to question frontline staff.
  • Adapt IT and secure internal communication systems to support staff in identifying and managing risk.
  • Check that procedures cover not just staff, but other associated persons.
  • Ensure corporate governance takes account of the risks and senior managers are aware of their responsibilities.

You can download a PDF of this checklist here.

VinciWorks’ training on the Criminal Finances Act

The Criminal Finances Act requires staff to be trained on tax evasion as part of a business’ reasonable procedures to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion.

The course covers:

  • The relationship between tax evasion, tax avoidance and tax mitigation
  • The social and economic effects of failing to prevent tax evasion
  • Understanding of what is meant by “reasonable procedures”
  • The penalties for committing an offence under the Criminal Finances Act
  • Red flags for spotting facilitation of tax evasion
  • Practical advice and personalised guidance to prevent facilitation of tax evasion
  • Interactive quizzes to review knowledge learnt

The course is available in two versions: a 45 minute version for management teams and a 15 minute version for all other staff.

Demo 45 minute version

Demo 15 minute version