Evidence for forensic accountants
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has this week raided two football clubs and arrested a number of people in a bid to recover evidence that will be used in a forensic investigation. 180 officers were deployed across the UK and France and have collected business records, computers, mobile phones and financial documentation that will be examined by forensic investigators.
Premises belonging to Newcastle United and West Ham United were raided and Newcastle’s Managing Director, Lee Charnley, was arrested and questioned then released without charge. Other people were also arrested but his was the only name to be made public. HMRC’s activity apparently revolved around suspected tax and national insurance fraud.
A spokesman for HMRC said that fraud investigations of this scale take “a very long time” to be completed. This is because a forensic investigation is painstaking in the extreme, with every tiny piece of evidence being examined to see where it fits into the picture.
While HMRC has said it cannot provide any further details about the investigation, France’s national Financial Office has been more forthcoming, with a statement saying that the UK authorities suspect ‘hidden payments’ to certain players, their agents or third parties, which allowed them to ‘evade income taxes and social security contributions’.
The media has made much of the fact that Newcastle United’s owner, controversial retailer Mike Ashley, only found out about the raid through seeing it on the news that morning but that is the norm. In order for suspects to have no notice of an impending raid, HMRC maintains total secrecy so that no evidence that could be found and used in a court can be disposed of.
Author: Roger Isaacs, 2 May 2017