Where CDF offer is made up to 29 June 2014: the initial meeting: additional unexpected disclosure of fraud made at a meeting
There will be occasions during a meeting where the taxpayer wants to tell you about a fraud that has not been disclosed previously. You should also bear in mind that this might be the first time that the taxpayer’s adviser is hearing about this.
As the fraud that the taxpayer wants to tell you about was not disclosed in the Outline Disclosure, it will probably fall outside HMRC’s undertaking not to criminally investigate. You will therefore need to consider the possibility that Criminal Investigation (CI) will be prepared to investigate it.
You must be careful not to prejudice a possible criminal investigation. On the other hand, you will need to obtain enough information to make a referral to CI worthwhile. In particular, you will need to have some idea of the nature and scale of the fraud, and whether it is connected in any way to the frauds disclosed in the Outline Disclosures.
One option available to you, particularly if you are not sure how best to proceed, is to adjourn the meeting whilst you seek advice by ringing the office to speak to your manager (or in their absence a more experienced colleague). You should not hesitate to ask for an adjournment if you feel that this is necessary.
If it is the first time the agent has heard this then they might seek an adjournment. In which case, you must agree to their request. The taxpayer is there voluntarily and is free to leave or ask for a break at any stage.
If, you decide to continue the meeting you should follow the following course:
- Make it clear that you are a civil investigator and you are not charged with a duty to investigate criminal conduct.
- Under the terms of COP9, HMRC does have the option of conducting a criminal investigation of this new disclosure with a view to prosecution. However, this is not a decision that you can make or be party to. This is a decision for CI alone.
- As your investigation is being conducted with a view to imposition of a civil penalty, any information provided and answers given to questions in the course of your (civil) interview could not be used to challenge the interviewee’s testimony in any subsequent criminal proceedings.
- However, their answers or any information given can be used as intelligence for the purpose of identifying lines of enquiry in any subsequent criminal investigation.
(This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)