Bernie Ecclestone guilty plea is “major return on investment” for elite HMRC investigation team
Previous investigations by OCW include that of BHS owner Dominic Chappell, who was sentenced to six years of imprisonment in 2020 for tax evasion
Bernie Ecclestone pleading guilty to failing to disclose £400m of offshore assets represents a major return on the tax authority’s investment in its elite Offshore, Corporate and Wealthy (OCW) compliance unit, says multinational law firm Pinsent Masons.
- HMRC willing to take on most complex cases involving high net worths
- Owners of offshore assets should look to settle with HMRC rather than risk criminal investigation
Andrew Sackey, Partner at Pinsent Masons and former Head of Offshore, Corporate and Wealthy compliance at HMRC says: “HMRC will view Bernie Ecclestone’s plea as a very significant victory. It has invested heavily into the Offshore, Corporate and Wealthy team over the last decade and highly public successes like this are a major return on that investment.”
“This shows that HMRC is more than willing to take on the most complex cases involving high net worths. The clear message from HMRC is that if you have assets hidden offshore the sooner you approach them and agree a settlement, the better.”
“HMRC is likely to continue to invest in the areas where it is seeing the biggest returns. If investigations into ultra-high net worths keep delivering on this scale, then this area will get more resource and more budget. That means more and bigger investigations of wealthy individuals in the coming years.”
The Offshore, Corporate and Wealthy unit, which comprises about 500 staff, has a wide range of criminal and civil powers at its disposal, but reserves criminal processes for its most serious investigations. OCW is part of HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service (FIS), which was set up in the wake of the Panama Papers leak in 2016 with a brief to target deliberate, high-value tax evasion, fraud and money laundering. Wealthy individuals (those earning over £200,000 each year) are a major part of OCW’s focus.