Although HMRC reserve the right to conduct criminal investigations ‘in any case’, there are, particular offences much more likely to trigger criminal investigation over the civil. These include:

  • Cases involving organised criminal gangs, or conspiracy.
  • Where the offender holds a position of responsibility or trust
  • Where there is evidence of materially false statements, or where false documents are provided during a civil investigation
  • In cases of deliberate corruption, conspiracy, deception, or concealment
  • Where forged documents have been used
  • Where there are clear breaches of import or export prohibitions
  • Cases of money laundering, with particular focus on financial advisers, accountants and solicitors who have facilitated the process
  • Where perpetrators are repeat offenders, demonstrating a pattern of unlawful conduct
  • Anything involving the theft, misuse, or destruction of HMRC documents
  • Anything involving threats to HMRC officials
  • Anything hinting at wider criminality which stretches beyond the administration of HMRC

The Importance of ‘Complete and Unprompted Disclosure’

One fact HMRC takes great pains to stress is that there will be far more inclined to proceed using civil fraud investigation procedures, rather than criminal, where an individual has made a ‘complete and unprompted disclosure’.

The Contractual Disclosure Facility (CDF)

In fraud investigation cases, HMRC of the perpetrators a contractual disclosure facility contract that allow individuals to own up to bringing about a lot of tax for HMRC through deliberate conduct. Signing this will indemnify you from criminal prosecution while refusing it makes a criminal investigation all but inevitable.