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Govt withdrew HSBC tax evasion prosecution case

UK tax authorities withdrew a fourth case from the Crown Prosecution Service as it sought justice over alleged HSBC-aided tax evasion, despite telling MPs that just three files were passed to prosecutors.

HMRC has always maintained it was only able to submit three files to prosecutors following a lengthy investigation of a list of 1,100 UK based individuals allegedly aided in tax evasion by HSBC’s Swiss private bank.

In an 11 February meeting of the Public Accounts Committee on the so-called “Falciani list”, HMRC director general of enforcement and compliance Jennie Granger was asked by Conservative MP Chris Heaton-Harris: “How many files, based on the data that we are talking about now, did you send to the CPS?”

Granger responded: “We sent three, and they accepted one.”

However, a Freedom of Information request submitted by Money Marketing reveals Grainger excluded a further case, which was withdrawn by HMRC.

According to the CPS, the tax office submitted files referring to a total of five individuals. 

It says: “The CPS advised that it would not be possible to prosecute three individuals referred to in two of the files, without further evidence.

“In one file, there was found to be sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction and a prosecution was determined to be in the public interest (in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors). This prosecution was concluded successfully.

“A fourth file was referred to the CPS but the matter was withdrawn by HMRC without consideration of a charging decision.”

Public accounts committee chair Margaret Hodge says: In our hearing we were told by Jennie Granger that HMRC sent three files to the CPS. We will be following this up with HMRC to get to the bottom of this.”

An HMRC spokesman says officials provided Parliament with full details of the number of cases passed to the CPS for formal consideration of prosecution.

The spokesman adds: “We started out with a number of cases where we initially thought that criminal charges would be appropriate. We are constantly assessing what would be the best result for the taxpayer and as that analysis progress we make decisions on whether cases are more suitable for criminal charges or civil recovery.”

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