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Trouble in paradise

25 May 2006 / Andy Sharp
Issue: 4059 / Categories: Comment & Analysis
The practical impact of HMRC's investigations into offshore accounts held by UK residents is examined by ANDY SHARP.

THE OFFSHORE FRAUD project group was created in 2005 as a new unit of HMRC in order to recover tax from UK residents who were believed to hold offshore bank accounts containing untaxed monies. One of the reasons for its creation was the view that the best method of identifying UK tax evaders was to follow the route of the funds into and out of offshore tax havens. The unit has over 40 investigators together with dedicated accountancy support and a designated research and development team. It also receives intelligence from and provides intelligence to overseas fiscal authorities.

The unit believes that the funds held by UK residents in 13 offshore financial centres amount to over £200 billion and its belief is that a significant proportion of these funds has been derived from tax evasion or 'unacceptable tax avoidance' in the UK. It is believed...

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