A globally coordinated day of action against the suspected tax evasion and money laundering of more than £200m in the UK alone has been undertaken this week across the UK, US, Canada, Australia and the Netherlands.
The action by the Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement (J5) - a new alliance dedicated to tackling international tax crime and money laundering - occurred as part of a series of investigations into a Central American financial institution, whose products and services are believed to be facilitating tax evasion and money laundering for customers across the globe.
It is believed that through this institution, a number of clients are using a sophisticated system to conceal and transfer wealth anonymously, to evade their tax obligations and launder the proceeds of crime.
This is the first coordinated set of enforcement actions undertaken on a global scale by the J5 – the first of many"
As part of the coordinated global effort, HMRC officers executed a search warrant in the Stoke area and arrested a 59-year-old man. HMRC officers also visited several businesses and sought information from them to assist with ongoing investigations.
"This is the first coordinated set of enforcement actions undertaken on a global scale by the J5 - the first of many," said Don Fort, US Chief, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation.
"Working with the J5 countries who all have the same goal, we are able to broaden our reach, speed up our investigations and have an exponentially larger impact on global tax administration. Tax cheats in the US and abroad should be on notice that their days of non-compliance are over," Fort added.
Simon York, director of HMRC's Fraud Investigation Service, said: "Tax evasion is a global problem that needs a global response and that is what the J5 provides. This kind of international action shows that we can and we will take on the most harmful, sophisticated and complex crimes and that we are committed to levelling the playing field for honest businesses and taxpayers.
"International tax evasion robs our public services of vital funds, undermines economies and, left unchecked, can enrich the dishonest at the expense of the honest majority.
"Working together, HMRC and our J5 partners are closing the net on tax criminals, wherever they are, to ensure nobody is beyond our reach. The message to them is clear - the J5 are closing in."
The J5 was formed in response to a call to action from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) for countries to do more to tackle the enablers of tax crime. All 5 countries face similar threats - organised crime groups and wealthy offshore tax evaders who are well resourced and have access to professional enablers to hide income and assets using the global financial system.
Membership of the J5 includes the heads of tax crime and senior officials from The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) and Australian Taxation Office (ATO), the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), the Dutch Fiscal Information and Investigation Service (FIOD), HMRC, and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI).