Failure to prevent facilitation of UK tax evasion offences

Part of Criminal Finances Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 9:45 am ar 22 Tachwedd 2016.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Ben Wallace Ben Wallace Minister of State (Home Office) (Security) 9:45, 22 Tachwedd 2016

To clarify, I think that statutory guidance is first published in draft. Given the hon. Gentleman’s experience, I would welcome his input on whether that guidance is appropriate. We did that with the Bribery Act; I remember when that came out. Statutory guidance is an important tool for small businesses, because big businesses have big compliance departments and can do all the work even without the statutory guidance, but for small or medium-sized businesses, the statutory guidance is a good starting point. It is really important both that we get it right, and that we get it written in plain English.

I reiterate the offence created by the clause: if someone in a Crown dependency or overseas territory—I know that hon. Members are interested in those—is advising UK citizens to evade UK tax, it does not matter that they have no nexus here; they are criminally at risk. As regards trying to change the behaviour of overseas territories or tax havens, this offence will allow us to prosecute people anywhere in the world who are encouraging people to evade UK tax. That is a major and significant step. If someone on a Caribbean island calls themselves a tax consultant and encourages British people to evade tax, we will come after them. That is a major change that goes beyond the shores of the United Kingdom. I hope that the action that we have taken to stop that will go some way to alleviating colleagues’ concerns about the behaviour of some tax havens around the world.