U.K. Tax Authority Arrests Senior Bank Executive Over Fraud

U.K. tax authorities arrested a 63-year-old senior bank executive at a home in London on suspicion of tax fraud.

The case concerns a personal tax return and isn’t related to his employer, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs said in a statement on its website today. HMRC didn’t identify the banker in its statement. A spokeswoman declined to comment further.

“Tax fraud is a serious crime and HMRC will not hesitate to take action and investigate where we find evidence of someone not playing by the rules,” said Alan Lee, deputy director of criminal investigation at HMRC. “Further information cannot be provided at this stage as our investigation is ongoing.”

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said in May HMRC was closing in on wealthy individuals and companies seeking to evade tax. The Treasury is trying to raise revenue as it seeks to narrow Britain’s budget deficit.

If found guilty, the executive might face a jail term of as much as seven years, have his assets confiscated and pay back any evaded tax, said Ray McCann, a partner at Pinsent Mason LLP, a London law firm, who worked for HMRC for 31 years.

In recent years, the HMRC has taken a harder look at tax shelters and is investigating them with its criminal division, said McCann, who isn’t a lawyer.

“There’s been a shift in their posture in how they’re looking at the scheme,” McCann said. “They’re looking at a wider number of schemes right from the start and saying, does this scheme rely on fraud?”

To contact the reporter on this story: Ambereen Choudhury in London at achoudhury@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net

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