Today’s newspapers are full of stories about the so-called “Paradise Papers”: a huge number of hacked computer files containing vast amounts of information about bank accounts, companies, trusts and various assets (including yachts and aeroplanes) registered in various tax havens around the world.
Data hacked (i.e. stolen) from three main sources was passed to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICJ): and is now being shared with the global media. Over 13 million previously secret computer files containing nearly 7 million documents relating to 120,000 people and 25,000 companies have been obtained, and are now being examined and published.
The bulk of the data was stolen from Cayman Islands based financial and legal services company: Appleby – who helped clients set up various “fiduciary” structures in many offshore tax havens (including the Isle of Man; Luxembourg; Malta; Bermuda; and Lebanon). A smaller amount was hacked from a small family trust company: Asiaciti. Corporate registries maintained (but not normally made available for public inspection) from 19 separate so-called tax havens were also illegally accessed. The Appleby data covered the period 1993 to 2013. They offshore company registries cover the period 1950 to 2016.
Similar data previously obtained by the ICJ (e.g. the “Panama Papers”) was passed by them to HM Revenue and Customs in the UK. Undoubtedly, they have now done the same.
HMRC is currently processing a vast amount of data which it obtained from previous leaks, plus from the now 100 countries around the world who have signed up to the Common Reporting Standard. The taxman has already written to thousands of people this year demanding that they complete a Certificate of Tax Position; and inviting them to register for the Worldwide Disclosure Facility. In September 2018 swingeing new penalties will apply for anyone with tax irregularities related to offshore matters.
What does this mean for me?
If you have offshore bank accounts or investments, and your tax affairs in the UK are not fully compliant, then it looks like it is now only a matter of time before HMRC discover you. If make a voluntary disclosure soon then you are at risk of an intrusive in-depth tax investigation, extremely harsh financial penalties, and possibly prosecution – bringing potential imprisonment and confiscation of your assets.
How can Lynam Tax Disclosure Experts Help Me?
Lynam Tax specialists have huge experience in successfully assisting clients in making voluntary disclosures relating to offshore income and assets. We can ensure that you get the best deal currently available.
*Why not have a free confidential discussion with one of our experts right now?
Paul Lynam: 0845 643 9997
Andrew Nutbrown: 07718 778710