HM Revenue Customs (HMRC) has admitted for the first time that it allows the most powerful members of society to escape prosecution for financial crimes.
At an economic crime conference in Cambridge last week, a senior government official admitted that the tax authorities accommodated celebrities’ concerns and settled debts privately to avoid the embarrassment of a public trial.
HMRC, however, continues to prosecute smugglers, small businesses and benefits cheats.
Richard Las, the deputy director of HMRC in charge of organised crime, said that “very wealthy and prominent members of the community” were afraid of the “reputational damage” that a criminal trial for fraud, money-laundering or tax evasion would bring.
He admitted that “criminal justice” was never a “default option” for HMRC. “We use it…