In the Budget 2021, presented to Parliament on 3 March, the Chancellor announced that HMRC will establish a taskforce to investigate those who have fraudulently made use of government schemes set up to protect individuals and businesses against the economic impact of COVID-19 – such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) (widely referred to as the Furlough scheme) and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS).
HMRC’s criminal investigation policy makes it clear that it will tackle tax fraud by civil investigation procedures wherever possible, with criminal investigations reserved for the most egregious of offending. It is therefore highly unusual for an appellant in the tax tribunal to argue his case is so serious it should only be dealt with by way of a criminal investigation. However, that is exactly what happened in the Upper Tribunal case of L Hackett v HMRC  UKUT 212 (TCC).
In response to the coronavirus (“COVID-19”) pandemic, the government introduced a number of loan schemes in order to assist businesses struggling financially. Recent reports suggest that these schemes, as outlined below, have become a target for fraudulent loan applications, by both genuine businesses and also organised criminal enterprises. This blog briefly examines the various loan schemes in place and the criminal offences which are likely to be the focus of investigating authorities in the coming months.
The Government announced its intention to introduce an Economic Crime Levy in the Budget 2020. This is designed to fund government action to tackle money laundering and help deliver the reforms committed to in the Economic Crime plan 2019-2020. It has since followed up on this - on 21 July - with the launch of a consultation as to how such a levy would operate.