Meaning of relevant body and acting in the capacity of an associated person

Part of Criminal Finances Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 9:25 am ar 22 Tachwedd 2016.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Ben Wallace Ben Wallace Minister of State (Home Office) (Security) 9:25, 22 Tachwedd 2016

Mrs Main, this is like an auction—the speed at which you are dealing with matters. The only person who can understand these things is the auctioneer.

Clause 36 defines essential terms that establish the scope of the new corporate offences of domestic and foreign failure to prevent tax evasion. It defines those entities that can be liable under the new offences, and those persons for whom a corporation can be liable if it fails to prevent them from facilitating tax evasion. The relevant bodies that can be liable under the new offences are defined as bodies incorporated and partnerships, not individual men or women, reflecting the responses to HMRC’s consultation on the provisions. The new offences can therefore be committed by companies, whether established to make a profit or for charitable purposes; partnerships; and similar entities established under foreign law. Indeed, the not-for-profit sector publically welcomed the offence applying to its sector, recognising that charities can be misused to facilitate tax evasion. Individuals involved in facilitating tax evasion will of course continue to face prosecution under existing tax evasion offences.

We will go on to debate the provisions in greater depth, but for now it is important to stress that part 3 of the Bill creates offences of corporate failure to prevent the criminal facilitation of tax evasion. They are not offences of corporate failure to prevent tax evasion itself and do not create a legal obligation for corporations to prevent their client’s tax evasion.

The clause also defines broadly the persons who could attract liability for a relevant body. Those include an employee, an agent and any other person who provides services for, or on behalf of, the relevant body. That mirrors the similar offence of corporate failure to prevent bribery in the Bribery Act 2010. That is important because we have seen in the past that corporations structure their affairs to try to insulate themselves from liability by deliberately contracting out the most risky services, typically to persons based in the most secretive jurisdictions. The definition of associated persons in the clause addresses that and closes that potential loophole.

However, it is important to appreciate that not every act of, say, an employee will give rise to criminal liability for the relevant body. For example, where an employee who has gone home from work and is acting in their private capacity criminally facilitates a tax evasion offence by their partner, that will not give rise to any liability for the employing relevant body because the criminal facilitating act was not done in the capacity of employee. I hope that that explanation provides a useful introduction to how the subsequent clauses will function.