On 2 & 3 June 2008, armed police from the Metropolitan Police raided three safe depositories in Mayfair, Hampstead and Edgware; searching nearly 7000 safety deposit boxes as part of Operation Rize. They seized over £50 million in cash and valuables. Much of this has been passed to the tax man.
There are likely to be 1800 individual investigations as a result of Operation Rize. Police say many innocent people will have been caught up in the operation and have issued a freephone number – 0800 030 4613 – for people to ring to claim back their property. The seized contents of 2,500 boxes have been returned to their owners, as the police are satisfied that those boxes were used for legitimate purposes.
The details of 700 box holders are reportedly being passed to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs for suspected tax evasion. Intriguingly, £15 million has been paid over by the police to the taxman. HMRC are thought to have supplied the Met with information of income declared made by box holders. HMRC are presumably reviewing their own files to see if any box holders were previously subject to a tax investigation and, if so, whether the contents of the box were disclosed on any signed statements of assets or on any tax returns. Where the police investigation doesn’t identify any wider criminality (other than tax issues), then the matter is being passed to HMRC to investigate.
A Met press release suggests that many box holders with tax related issues have “requested” that cash seized in Operation Rize be paid directly to the taxman, to cover unpaid tax. We have heard that the Met is actually asking box holders to sign a mandate authorising the transfer of seized cash to HMRC, with no guarantee of immunity from prosecution by HMRC.
It seems highly possible that many people innocent of any tax irregularities may end up being investigated by HMRC. Others may have serious tax problems and may help in sorting out those issues with the tax authorities. Most cases will be dealt with under the civil investigation of fraud procedures.
Lynam Tax Enquiry Expert partners have a vast amount of practical experience in managing tax investigations and tax enquiries. We have successfully persuaded HMRC to drop criminal charges in a number of cases and also assist specialist defence solicitors in cases which do end up in court; when we have been able to substantially reduce the amounts of money (tax, interest and tax geared penalties) being sought by HMRC.
We can advise you on the best course of action and if appropriate, help you manage any necessary disclosures or obtain first class legal representation, in order to obtain the optimum outcome for you, your business and your family.
For a free, private, no obligation consultation, call Paul Lynam today on 0845 643 9997