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Taskforce tackles tax fraud in Scottish fishing industry

Press Release   •   Aug 12, 2013 15:51 BST

A team of HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) officers tackling tax and benefit fraud targeted towns in the North East of Scotland in the last week including Peterhead, Fraserburgh and Mintlaw.

The officers are part of an HMRC taskforce focusing on tax evasion across the Scottish fishing industry including crews, fishing vessel owners and fish processors. The taskforce is expected to recover £3.6 million from tax dodgers.

The taskforce, codenamed ‘Operation Regor’, involved officers from HMRC, Police Scotland, Border Force, Home Office Immigration Enforcement, Aberdeenshire Council and the Gangmaster Licensing Authority. Over the three day operation officers from one or more of the agencies visited four fish processing factories, 11 fishing vessels and two houses of multiple occupancy (HMO’s).

The operation also aimed to identify occurrences of migrant labour abuse through fraudulent access to benefits and public services or by exploitative employers or landlords.

Over 300 employees were interviewed during the visits to the factories and HMRC is now pursuing leads on Houses of Multiply Occupancy (HMO) abuses and benefit and credit irregularities. HMRC’s Road Fuel Testing Unit tested 36 large goods vehicles and two vehicles were seized for running on illegal fuel.

HMRC’s Jennie Granger, Director General for Enforcement and Compliance, said:

“Our message is clear - if you seek to evade tax or defraud the tax system, HMRC can and will track you down. You will face not only a heavy fine, but possibly a criminal prosecution as well.

“Working with other Government departments and agencies will mean there is a co-ordinated approach to dealing with the risks in this industry and to level the tax playing field for taxpayers who are doing the right thing.”

If you know anyone who is evading their taxes, you can tell HMRC via the Tax Evasion Hotline by phone, on 0800 788 887, by email or by post.

Detective Inspector Kevin Goldie, the Police Scotland Operational lead for Operation Regor said:

"Operation Regor is an intelligence led operation aimed at tackling those who benefit financially from their criminal activity.

"Over the past month, various departments within Police Scotland have worked alongside partners from Aberdeenshire Council, Her Majesty's Revenue and Custom, Home Office Immigration Enforcement, Gangmaster Licensing, British Transport Police, VOSA and Roads Fuel Testing Unit in a multi-agency approach to this issue.”

Notes for editors

1. The taskforce team visited various locations in and around the towns of Peterhead, Fraserburgh and Mintlaw between Monday 5 August and Wednesday 7 August.

2. Taskforces bring together various HMRC compliance and enforcement teams for intensive bursts of activity targeted at specific sectors and locations where there is evidence of high risk of tax evasion and fraud.

3. The taskforce will target offenders by using all intelligence and third party information sources available to HMRC.

4. HMRC has launched 43 taskforces since 2011. A further 27 are planned for 2013-14 and 30 for 2014-15.

5. Taskforces are a result of the Government’s £917 million spending review investment to tackle tax evasion, avoidance and fraud from 2011-12, which aims to raise an additional £7 billion each year by 2014-15.

Issued by HM Revenue & Customs Press Office

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is the UK’s tax authority.

HMRC is responsible for making sure that the money is available to fund the UK’s public services and for helping families and individuals with targeted financial support.