HM Revenue & Customs has helped uncover £200m worth of suspected tax evasion and money laundering in the UK.
The action — which occurred as part of a series of investigations in Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, the US and the UK — is centred around a Central American financial institution whose products and services are believed to be facilitating tax evasion and money laundering worldwide.
HMRC believes a number of UK clients are using this institution to conceal and transfer wealth anonymously to evade tax obligations and launder the proceeds of crime, with UK funds alone worth £200m.
As part of the action, which took place this week (January 22), HMRC officers used a search warrant in the Stoke area and arrested a man as part of their enquiries.
The 59-year-old, who was arrested on suspicion of cheating the public revenue and money laundering, was questioned but has since been released pending further enquiries as investigations are ongoing.
HMRC also visited several businesses and sought information from them to assist with their ongoing investigations.
The operation is the first major activity from the Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement — also known as the J5 — which was established to tackle international tax crime and money laundering.
The J5 brings together tax, crypto and cyber experts to target those who enable global tax evasion by gathering information, sharing intelligence and collaborating on operations.
According to HMRC this week’s operation helped gather “significant information” and it expects further criminal, civil and regulatory action would arise in each country.
Simon York, director of HMRC’s fraud investigation service, said: “Tax evasion is a global problem that needs a global response and that is what the J5 provides.
“This kind of international action shows that we can and we will take on the most harmful, sophisticated and complex crimes and that we are committed to levelling the playing field for honest businesses and taxpayers.”
Mr York said international tax evasion robbed public services of vital funds, undermined economies and could “enrich the dishonest” at the “expense of the honest majority”.
He added: “Working together, HMRC and our J5 partners are closing the net on tax criminals, wherever they are, to ensure nobody is beyond our reach.
“The message to them is clear – the J5 is closing in.”
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