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Where Taxpayers and Advisers Meet

criminal investigation

Feedback
Posts: 336
Joined: Thu Feb 23, 2012 10:26 am

criminal investigation

Postby Feedback » Fri Apr 25, 2014 7:06 pm

Hi forum

We're a small practice and we have been served with a production order relating to one of our clients over VAT misrepresentation. We have a few issues reconciling ethics, client confidentiality and disclosure. We have complied with the production order but now we have to have an interview with the case officer and provide a statement.

The case officer has stated they have seized our clients IT equipment and have seen all of our correspondence and have asked us to provide anything we think we may have overlooked that relates to production order. This seems odd if they have seen all of our correspondence with our client. Has anyone had any experience of this type of investigation? This is all new to us and whilst we want to make sure we assist HMRC within the production order we also have to maintain our clients best interests so much as we can. HMRC have not provided us with any evidence nor have they informed us what the nature of the allegations actually entail (other than misrepresentation).

thanks

Feedback
Posts: 336
Joined: Thu Feb 23, 2012 10:26 am

Re: criminal investigation

Postby Feedback » Fri Apr 25, 2014 7:07 pm

NB by issues I mean we have a duty of care to our client as well as to HMRC and without any evidence we are struggling to see, ethically, what our position is.

wamstax
Posts: 1869
Joined: Wed Aug 06, 2008 3:39 pm
Location: Operate Nationally but based in Aberdeen
Contact:

Re: criminal investigation

Postby wamstax » Sat Apr 26, 2014 2:13 pm

Presumably this would be a witness statement BUT I would ensure that that is exactly what it is and what it is going to be used for.

You can always ask for the legislation under which the meeting is going to be conducted and whether it is voluntary or otherwise. If it is voluntary then the choice is yours and of course you are not obliged to provide any prosecuting authority with information if it is voluntary. Of course what you have to ensure is that any information you provide does not breach your confidentiality with the client and therefore while there would be nothing to stop you speaking to documents and as to your knowledge of the documents/transactions you would have to be careful that you were not providing "what you thought" the client's knowledge etc was of these or the implications. Remember if it is a witness statement it is your statement and not the officers so that if you don't agree with what is being suggested you can just refuse to prepare it on that basis.

Presumably if you are still acting for the client you have absolutely no reason to suspect or consider that there are or have been activities that would result in Suspicious Activity Reports.

You also have to consider whether HMRC have suspicions that your firm could be implicated and I would be asking the officer if he was suspecting that you had intentionally held back information given his/her question after having seen all your correspondence on the client's system. In that event you would be best advised to seek your own legal adviser to discuss matters with before committing yourself to any particular line.
regards and hope this helps
http://www.wamstaxltd.com
Operates Nationally with competitive costs
and email and phone contact can be obtained from website

Feedback
Posts: 336
Joined: Thu Feb 23, 2012 10:26 am

Re: criminal investigation

Postby Feedback » Sat Apr 26, 2014 3:50 pm

Wamstax

thanks for the reply. just to clarify:-

1. establish if I am giving a witness statement and under what authority or powers I am being asked to do so? That is, is this voluntary or not

2. ask the officer outright if they think we are involved in this and whether they think we have concealed any information


NB we are no longer acting for the client, we have not heard from them since this incident reared its ugly head. Whether we are acting for them or otherwise at present is irrelevant from a client confidentiality point of view would you not agree?

wamstax
Posts: 1869
Joined: Wed Aug 06, 2008 3:39 pm
Location: Operate Nationally but based in Aberdeen
Contact:

Re: criminal investigation

Postby wamstax » Sat Apr 26, 2014 6:13 pm

I accept that whether or not you are still acting is irrelevant except that if you were still acting then you might have to consider what information you should provide to him/her/them about the matters that you are being requested to provide. If you are no longer acting then of course you only have your own firm to think about from a legal standpoint. Of course if you are compelled by LAW to provide information then personally I would take legal advice from my own legal adviser as to whether or not you need to do anything and the likely ramifications of either compliance or refusal.

Clearly if you have not heard from them this might be an indication that you have been kept in the dark and whether or not you would have had any inkling/suspicion of a suspicious activity report requirement.
regards and hope this helps
http://www.wamstaxltd.com
Operates Nationally with competitive costs
and email and phone contact can be obtained from website

Feedback
Posts: 336
Joined: Thu Feb 23, 2012 10:26 am

Re: criminal investigation

Postby Feedback » Tue May 13, 2014 4:44 pm

all good. nothing to worry about whatsoever. HMRC were pretty relaxed about the whole thing and actually praised us for defending HMRC on occasions in our email dialogue with our clients (the usual moaning about time taken to issue rebates and so on). Other than our voluntary witness statement that will probably be it for us.

you live an learn


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