HMRC allows hundreds of tax evaders to avoid courts

HMRC Letter 480

A list of hundreds of potential tax evaders who form part of the “Lagarde list” will avoid prosecution and escape from having their identities revealed as part of immunity deals with HMRC, say reports.

The Times reports only one person on a list of 6,000 tax dodgers has been convicted of serious fraud. Only 500 have been investigated on suspicion of fraud.

The list of people with secret HSBC bank accounts was passed to HMRC by Christine Lagarde who at the time was French finance minister.

The paper reports HMRC’s approach has been to offer immunity in return for settling their tax bills and payment of a penalty rather than a legal pursuit.

A senior HMRC official told The Times: “The courts would not thank HMRC for taking zillions of prosecutions into them, so we have a selective prosecution policy. We want to use prosecution as a deterrent.”

Pinsent Masons director Ray McCann told The Times: “It is those at the lower end of the social scale who go to prison. There is no immunity offer for benefit cheats.

“The Revenue made a policy decision…Where there was an HSBC account, they would automatically go to contractual disclosure facility. This means immunity from prosecution is guaranteed if you own up to tax evasion, whether it be a small amount or billions.”