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HMRC internal manual

Fraud Civil Investigation Manual

Where CDF offer is made 30 June 2014 onwards: the initial meeting: purpose of the initial meeting

The purpose of any initial meeting should be considered carefully as this will vary greatly, depending on the particular circumstances of each case.

The meeting could be to discuss

  • an Outline Disclosure and the scope of a detailed disclosure report - where Contractual Disclosure Facility (CDF) applies
  • a rejection that has been sent in response to the offer of CDF
  • non-cooperation.

The purpose of the meeting should always be made clear to all parties and must be kept in mind when preparing for the meeting.

Regardless of the type of situation that you are dealing with, it is important that you can demonstrate you have an open mind. However, there will be times where you will need to challenge the customer about information that you have.

A meeting offers the opportunity to reinforce behaviour change. Where the customer attends the meeting you have the task of making sure that he or she is aware of the seriousness of a non-disclosure or a false or incomplete disclosure.

You should also note:

  • Establishing facts and the customer’s behaviour are important features of any meeting. When discussing an Outline Disclosure you should recognise the difference between what has been disclosed to date in terms of the fraud, and the quality of what the customer discloses during the initial meeting in terms of any penalties that might be appropriate. Whilst the customer may be able to earn a full reduction for the quality of their disclosure, you must consider their behaviour in the context of what has happened to date. See CH403203 for guidance on how to work out penalty reductions.
  • (This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)
  • Where the case has been referred by another office the customer might have already lost the opportunity to make a fully unprompted disclosure and gain full reductions in any penalty. They could still be considered potentially suitable for PDDD (Publishing Details of Deliberate Defaulters) programme.

If you are dealing with a rejection, or the customer has declined to respond to your opening letter and COP9, it is important to remember that your suspicion of fraud may be misplaced. An open-minded approach must be taken; even the most convincing indicators of fraud may be capable of innocent explanation. In these cases you will not request a disclosure report or hold a scoping meeting, however you should try to agree a way forward with the customer, if possible

Scoping the disclosure report

If a disclosure report has been commissioned, you may decide to hold a scoping meeting with the customer and their agent, this meeting can take place immediately after the opening meeting, if appropriate.

One of the purposes of the meeting may be to discuss the scope of the disclosure report with the customer and the person who will produce the report. This will involve the customer at the outset and will help them understand the

  • parameters of the disclosure report
  • requirement to provide information to their agent promptly, and
  • timetable for submitting the report.

Any such discussions will help play a crucial role in managing the final disclosure process. They will allow everyone involved

  • time to reflect on and understand some of the key issues
  • scope to highlight any potential difficulties in obtaining documents and information
  • the ability to agree a course of action.

In appropriate cases this could also include agreeing what further meetings are required to check on the progress being made with the report.

The customer, and their adviser should be told to start working on the report immediately. For example, they should start working on collecting the information required to complete the

  • Statement of assets and liabilities
  • Certificate of bank accounts operated during the period of the fraud, and
  • Certificate of debit and credit cards operated during the period of the fraud.

You should advise that you will need to see what progress has been made when you return for the first progress meeting.

The customer and their agent must decide the actual content of the report.