Investigations into VAT and Tax fraud can cover a variety of allegations against individuals or businesses.
- Carousel fraud
- Diversion fraud
- Income Tax Fraud
- Missing Trader Fraud (MTIC)
Investigations and prosecutions are brought mainly by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) who have considerable investigative powers and can search and seize information and documents as they wish.
Many convictions for VAT or tax fraud result in a lengthy prison sentence along with orders for confiscation under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
The firm has significant experience in dealing with cases of fraud involving dutiable goods such as cigarettes and alcohol. We also represent defendants accused of the importation of prohibited products and recently acted for the acquitted defendant in what was at the time the UK’s largest case involving the illegal smuggling of NATO firearms.
Those who can become embroiled in such allegations are not only the owner of the goods, but also the transportation companies and the employees involved in the movement of goods.
Missing Trader Fraud (MTIC)
HMRC investigate and prosecute the majority of such frauds. Put simply, the frauds involve a chain of companies dealing in large quantities of small high value goods such as mobile phones or microchips. The company at the start of the chain will sell on goods they have imported, VAT free, to a UK company and will charge VAT accordingly. VAT liability continues to be passed down the chain, but the company at the start of the chain has the largest VAT liability having charged VAT on the sale, but not being charged VAT by their supplier from overseas. This liability can run into millions of pounds. However that company will often disappear, hence the term “Missing Trader”, leaving millions owed to the Revenue. Companies much further down the chain, and their individual employees, are often accused of being involved in nothing more than a scam to cheat the Revenue. We currently act in one of the largest prosecutions in the UK of this type involving fourteen companies and individuals.
In many cases of Missing Trader Fraud the same goods imported into the UK, at the start of the fraud, are exported out of the UK only to return by way of import to the UK and the process begins again, hence the term “carousel fraud”. In many cases the investigating authorities allege that the goods do not even exist.
By their very nature these enquiries are lengthy and complicated. It is important to have legal advice from the very outset. Clients may have documents and evidence vital to their defence without even knowing it. It is important that such material is identified and preserved and tactical decisions taken every step of the way.
Income Tax Fraud
Tax investigations by the HMRC into your personal tax affairs can sometimes be very judgemental. Good accountants can often resolve these matters at an early stage, but if you are prosecuted or become the subject of a criminal enquiry clients are in need of expert legal advice. Working with your existing accountant, or indeed employing the services of specialist accountants, our aim is to draw a halt to any criminal proceedings as soon as possible and to defend your position vigorously should HMRC persist.
If you have been accused of VAT or Tax fraud it is essential that you get immediate legal advice. We provide advice and representation nationwide to those suspected of, or charged with diversion fraud, MTIC, carousel fraud and income tax fraud. Call our experienced team on 0800 328 8846 for immediate assistance or via an online enquiry. In our experience, seeking advice at an early stage of an investigation can dramatically reduce the chances of a prosecution being brought against you.
Cunninghams are regularly asked by clients to take over their case from Solicitors that they have previously instructed.
This can happen at any stage of an investigation or prosecution.
There can be many reasons for this. Their existing solicitor may feel that for professional reasons they can no longer continue to represent their client, they may no longer feel that they have the necessary expertise or they may no longer be allowed to represent their client in respect of a particularly serious case because they are not members of the VHCC panel. In some cases, a client’s relationship with their solicitor has simply broken down, or they have lost complete confidence in their solicitor’s ability to represent them properly. Some clients feel that transferring representation will be an awkward, embarrassing or difficult process, and for cases which are publicly funded there are strict criteria which must be present before a case is transferred to another solicitor.
At Cunninghams we are used to dealing with such enquiries and can reassure clients that any transfer of their case will be smooth, free of embarrassment and always in their best interests.