This blog is an interesting one for us, we wanted to share with you what HMRC’s fraud investigation team got up to in 2019 (looks like they were very busy!) If nothing else, it puts it all into perspective and satisfies our nosiness!

Strap yourselves in, you are in for an interesting read…

In 2019 HMRC’s fraud investigations led to more than 600 individuals being convicted for their part in tax crimes. The Fraud Investigation Service continues to bring in around £5 billion a year through civil and criminal investigations.

Top of the list for criminal cases in 2019 are:

  • Two wealthy professionals who attempted to steal more than £60 million through a fraudulent tax avoidance scheme which claimed to invest in HIV research and conservation, and were jailed for a total of 14 and a half years.
  • A Berkshire-based gang that stole £34 million in VAT and laundered £87 million, the proceeds from selling illicit alcohol through bank accounts in Britain, Cyprus, Hong Kong, Dubai and other countries – were jailed for more than 46 years.
  • Five people, including the former owners of a Sussex petrol station, who were sentenced for distributing and selling an estimated 4.8 million litres of illicit fuel to unsuspecting motorists, including haulage companies across the South East.
  • The jailing of a former Top Gear mechanic who helped father and son tax cheats escape from the UK via ferry and Eurotunnel prior to sentencing for a £1 million VAT fraud.
  • An apparently jobless Londoner who enjoyed a sociable lifestyle of golf and exotic holidays by dodging tax on smuggled tobacco has been jailed.

As well as successful prosecutions, HMRC issued a record £7.8 million fine to a money service business in West London for breaching the money laundering regulations. There was a major seizure in Northern Ireland, worth around £2 million in lost duty and taxes, by the Paramilitary Crime Task Force (of which HMRC is a part) targeting the criminal activities of paramilitary organised crime groups.

Simon York, Director of the Fraud Investigation Service, said:

The majority of people pay their taxes but there remains a hard core who have zero interest in playing by the rules.

These prosecutions clearly show that we’ll relentlessly pursue those criminals who would try and cheat honest taxpayers by stealing money destined for vital public services.

It means we’re increasingly taking on ever more complex frauds and well-resourced opponents, including tackling organised criminals who would otherwise undermine our economy and harm our communities.

There we have it, HMRC’s top criminal cases of 2019. We hope you found this an interesting read! We know we did…