Written by: Keith Tully
Reviewed: Friday 29th August, 2014
HMRC details progress on finding UK’s ‘Most Wanted’ tax fugitives
An FBI-style ‘Most Wanted’ list of the UK’s foremost tax fugitives has helped ensure that five of the country’s top tax avoiders have been found and returned to serve prison terms for their crimes.
HM Revenue & Customs first published a list of Britain’s 20 top tax avoiders in 2012, with a further 10 added the following year. All 30 individuals on the list are understood to have fled the country during or shortly before being due to stand trial for tax avoidance offences.
In addition to the five people returned to the UK to serve sentences over the course of the past year, the HMRC’s list also led to its Enforcement and Compliance unit receiving “important information” on the whereabouts of another five of its most wanted figures.
Among those returned recently were two individuals who fled to Spain having been convicted of smuggling 28.3 million and 150 million untaxed and illicit cigarettes respectively. Other crimes now being punished by prison terms apparently included large-scale tax credit and child benefit fraud and an £11.6 million money laundering scam.
“Tax fraudsters line their pockets at the UK’s expense. The individuals on our Most Wanted list have been charged but fled the country to avoid justice, so it’s excellent news for all honest taxpayers that five fugitives on last year’s list have now been brought back to face the consequences,” said Jennie Granger, HMRC’s director general of Enforcement and Compliance.
“We would like to thank the public for that help, and ask them to look at the 2014 list and help us to bring back the rest,” she added.
The remaining fugitives on the HMRC’s list are believed to have cost the UK a collective total of close to £844 million. HMRC now has knowledge of the whereabouts of 16 of the individuals still on its list and is seeking to see them all extradited back to the UK wherever it’s legally possible.
As well a series of photos and names identifying its most wanted individuals, HMRC has also published a map showing where it believes each of the men and women on its list to be located. You can see the full list and map here.