When it comes to tax and financial investigations, the Financial Crime Solicitors at Wilford Smith have the required skills, knowledge and determination to ruthlessly develop a top-level strategy on your behalf.
If you find yourself subject to an investigation, it is vitally important that you seek the best legal advice at the earliest stage possible. With the powers to arrest, detain and interview individuals under caution, as well as powers to search and seize and use compelled interviews, investigating authorities can cause huge disruption and distress to you, your family and your employees. With many years’ experience defending clients in complex tax and financial cases, the criminal defence team at Wilford Smith are able to provide sophisticated and astute legal expertise in order to conduct a robust defence in relation to any charges brought against you. Call us today to find out how we can help.
How do investigating authorities combat tax fraud and financial crimes?
The last ten years have seen the number of prosecutions brought against both individuals and businesses that commit financial crimes increase significantly. For those found guilty of these offences, the consequences can be substantial financial penalties, prison sentences, removal of assets, a criminal record and irreparable damage to an individual or business’s reputation.
An enforcement authority that has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent years is HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). Targeting those who seek to commit tax fraud, HMRC’s investigatory powers are extensive, allowing for the carrying out of both civil and criminal investigations when it is suspected that tax has been evaded or left unpaid. Those convicted of tax fraud can expect to face heavy financial penalties, with the possibility of prison sentences in serious cases.
When will an investigation be carried out into financial crime?
Financial crime is defined as any criminal conduct that relates to money, or to the markets or financial services. Examples of financial crime include:
- bribery and corruption;
- tax evasion;
- insider dealing;
- accounting misstatements; and
- abuse and manipulation of the financial markets.
In addition to the police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), there are also specialist agencies with responsibility for investigating and prosecuting financial crime in the UK.
The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is a prosecuting authority which, as part of the UK’s criminal justice system, has responsibility for investigating and prosecuting fraud cases that are serious or complex in nature, as well as those involving bribery and corruption in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The SFO undertakes investigations into alleged criminal activity that undermines the financial and commercial interests of the UK, with particular attention paid to the activities of the City of London.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) acts as the main regulator of the financial markets in the UK, with the power to bring criminal proceedings and regulatory enforcement proceedings against individuals and institutions when there is evidence of misconduct in the financial services industry. The FCA can compel the production of documents or information as part of its investigations, with powers to seek compulsory interviews, search an individual’s home or business premises and seize computers and electronic devices.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) was set up to combat serious and major crimes such as organised crime, exploitative crime, cybercrime and financial crime, as well as issues relating to border patrol. The NCA takes a leadership role in these areas through its organised crime, economic crime, border policing and Child Exploitation and Online Protection commands, as well as through the National Cyber Crime Unit and specialist capability teams.
When will HMRC carry out a tax investigation?
HMRC will carry out a tax investigation if there is a suspicion that an individual or business has not paid their required level of tax. In some cases, these investigations will be carried out randomly. However, certain industries may be deliberately targeted due to the increased risk of tax fraud occurring, such as businesses that routinely deal in cash payments.
HMRC may also decide to carry out an investigation if you fail to submit tax returns on time, if there are perceived disparities between your tax returns and your standard of living, or following a tip-off. In relation to VAT investigations, HMRC has opted to target certain industries where it is seen that there is an increased risk of VAT fraud, such as the telecommunications industry and companies specialising in the selling of computer components.
If you find yourself the subject of a tax investigation you should seek the advice of solicitors with experience in dealing with financial investigations. Should an investigation lead to court proceedings, prosecutions will be conducted by specially trained lawyers with experience in dealing with these complex cases. For this reason, you need access to the best available legal expertise in order to conduct a robust defence in relation to any charges that may be made against you. The Financial Crime Solicitors at Wilford Smith specialise in tax and VAT fraud and are able to provide representation when attending meetings with HMRC, representation in court proceedings and can provide guidance on managing risks to reputation resulting from investigations or prosecutions.
Why choose Wilford Smith?
We are experts in advising on allegations of fraud and corporate crime, advising both directors and employees on issues such as bribery and corruption, insider trading, tax investigations and confiscation proceedings carried out under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) 2002. For those subject to tax or financial investigations, we can provide representation when attending interviews under caution. Our solicitors can provide assistance on managing risks to reputation resulting from regulatory investigations or prosecutions, as well as assisting companies who choose to make voluntary disclosures to regulatory bodies, referred to as self-reporting.
Contact our Tax and Financial Investigations Solicitors, England and Wales
If you are under investigation for tax or financial offences, Wilford Smith can assist. Our Criminal Defence Teams are based in Sheffield and London and help clients throughout England and Wales. Contact us today on 01709 828 044 for advice.