Risk of Criminal Prosecution for Directors of Companies Abusing or Suspected of Trying to Defraud The Coronavirus Job Retention Fund

With HMRC’s Coronavirus Job Retention Fund due to open for applications on the 20th April and with Government having announced details of how to apply, HMRC have also made clear that they intend to conduct checks to ensure the scheme is not abused in the 6 day window between an application being made and payments being received.

HMRC have already requested that any employees who are being asked to work whilst furloughed to report this to them and in these cases they have stated that if this information is known in advance, payments would not be made.

If after a payment from the scheme is received, HMRC are made aware that the application or the furloughing was not carried out correctly or was made fraudulently, then HMRC will seek to recover the money and depending on the nature of the behaviour of the employer, HMRC may seek to take criminal action against the company.

HMRC are aware the scheme is seen as a target by organised crime but have been clear they will be carrying out checks to prevent abuse.

Even during the current Covid-19 pandemic, HMRC have not made any announcements that they are placing a hold on this area of work. Current Investigations are still moving and HMRC officers continue to take action. Any communication from HMRC in this area should still be treated with priority and advice taken as to how to respond given many firms and individuals maybe operating with significantly reduced resources.

If you have received an HMRC criminal investigation letter, it means you are suspected of tax fraud. If you wish to argue your innocence, you must pursue the matter in court.

At Altion Law, we provide advice to those who have received an HMRC criminal investigation letter. We can explain what it means and what your options are. If you believe there has been a mistake, we can represent you throughout legal proceedings. For more information please read our dedicated Criminal Investigations Page.

We strongly advise you to contact us as a matter of urgency so that we can explain your legal rights and option. For a confidential discussion with a member of our team, please call us now on 01908 414990 or complete an Online Enquiry.