Criminal investigation, with a view to prosecution is an important part of HMRC’s overall enforcement strategy.
Criminal Investigation is used when HMRC needs to send a strong deterrent message or where the conduct involved is such that only a criminal sanction is appropriate. However, in any case involving tax fraud, no matter how small, HMRC reserves complete discretion to conduct a criminal investigation.
HMRC does not take fingerprints, charge, or bail suspects. This has to be done by the police. Some of the powers are modified for HMRC. For example, a search warrant may allow HMRC to search persons found on the premises without the need for arrest. This allows HMRC to search a bookkeeper who may have evidence in a briefcase or laptop when a company’s premises are searched, but who is not considered a suspect.
When considering whether a case should be investigated under the CDF procedures or is the subject of a criminal investigation, one factor to be considered is whether the taxpayer has made a complete and unprompted disclosure of the offences committed.