Accountant fined for blocking HMRC investigation

12 October 2016

12 October 2016

An obstructive accountant who failed to cooperate with a tax fraud investigation has been fined £25,000 under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act.

In an historic first for HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), an obstructive accountant who failed to cooperate with a tax fraud investigation has been fined £25,000 under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 for failing to comply with Disclosure Notices.

Anil Shah, 66, an accountant from Middlesex, refused to assist HMRC officers who were investigating suspected tax evasion by his clients, despite being served with the legally binding documents. Shah was warned that if he didn’t pay the fine within 28 days he would face 18 months in prison.

The Disclosure Notices, which require individuals to share paperwork and information with HMRC when part of a criminal investigation, were ignored by Shah. When challenged by investigators, he made a number of statements that were found to be totally untrue. This included saying that he didn’t act for clients, when he did.

Simon York, Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:

“As a professional accountant Shah's role was to offer sound advice to his clients and comply with HMRC regulations. Instead he abused his privileged position, knowingly broke the law, and failed in his professional duties.

HMRC is determined to clamp down on financial crime. Today’s result sends a clear message to anyone who is considering trying to cover up tax fraud – nobody is beyond our reach.

If you commit or help others to commit a financial crime, HMRC can and will come after you and you too could end up paying the price or finding yourself behind bars.”

Two of Shah’s clients were jailed for seven years in 2015 for a £1.2 million VAT fraud. A further trial of a number of his, now, former clients recently concluded and they are due to be sentenced on 20 October 2016 at Southwark Crown Court.