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The consequences of failing to prevent tax evasion by corporates

Christopher Gribbin and Holly Buick discuss the new offences created by the Criminal Finances Act, a report into widespread issues with disclosure, and the recently introduced money laundering regulations

22 September 2017

The Criminal Finances Act 2017 comes into force on 30 September, making a whole range of reforms to the UK’s money laundering regime, asset recovery powers, and related offences. In addition, the Act notably introduces two new corporate offences of failure to prevent the facilitation of domestic and foreign tax evasion.

The new offences do not change what is criminal in terms of tax evasion, but rather focus on who is to be held accountable. Under the normal principles of corporate criminal liability, in order to hold a corporate body accountable, prosecutors are required to show that senior members of the corporate entity, typically at board level, were involved in and aware of criminal conduct. The new offences amend the normal principles – known as the ‘identification doctrine’ – and create criminal liability for a corporate entity that fails to prevent a person acting for...

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