Nicola Sharp of business crime solicitors Rahman Ravelli considers the statistics and the outlook for HMRC in 2020.
HM Revenue and Customs used January 2020 as an opportunity to highlight the cases that it considered to be its major successes of the previous year.
The HMRC listed what it viewed as its most significant criminal cases of 2019. It emphasised that its fraud investigations led to more than 600 individuals being convicted for their part in tax crimes and that new criminal investigations were started into a further 600-plus people in 2019.
HMRC also took the opportunity to point out that its Fraud Investigation Service continues to bring in around £5 billion annually through civil and criminal investigations and went into detail about some of those that were jailed for the largest frauds.
In announcing its biggest successes of 2019, HMRC’s Director of the Fraud Investigation Service Simon York said: “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 can be little doubt that HMRC feels happy with what it managed to achieve throughout 2019. After all, if it wasn’t there would be little chance of it making such an effort to outline the successes it racked up over the year.
The challenge facing HMRC now is ensuring it can build on – or at the very least maintain – that level of achievement. One thing in its favour is the arrival of the 5th Money Laundering Directive; which could mean a further increase in HMRC investigations and prosecutions in 2020 as it aims to tackle issues such as tax evasion and money laundering.