TAX EVADERS will be hit with new criminal sanctions, David Cameron will announce today, following the controversy engulfing the UK over the Panama Papers leak.
In a statement to the Commons, Cameron will reveal the UK is to bring forward plans to introduce a new criminal offence for corporations that fail to take adequate steps to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion.
In a further push to clamp down on tax evasion, the government will also create a new taskforce to investigate the financial affairs of companies mentioned in the Panama Papers.
The taskforce will be jointly led by HMRC and the National Crime Agency and draws on investigators, compliance specialists and analysts from HMRC, the National Crime Agency, the Serious Fraud Office and the Financial Conduct Authority.
According to HMRC, it is already investigating 700 current leads they have with a link to Panama.
Announcing the new task force, David Cameron said: “The UK has been at the forefront of international action to tackle the global scourge of aggressive tax avoidance and evasion, and international corruption more broadly.
“There is clearly further to go and this taskforce will bring together the best of British expertise to deal with any wrongdoing relating to the Panama Papers.
“This world-class operation will report to the chancellor and the home secretary on their strategy for taking action later this year, when we will update Parliament,” continued the prime Minister.
This will be the prime minister’s first appearance in front of MPs since the Mossack Fonseca leak and the public anger surrounding his own tax affairs.
There have been calls for the Conservative Party leader to resign after the biggest data leak in history revealed that Ian Cameron, the prime minister’s late father, was a client of Fonseca and allegedly used the law firm to protect investment fund Blairmore Holdings from UK taxes.
The prime minister, who in 2013 urged British overseas territories to work with him to “get their house in order”, has now published his tax returns and other financial data for public viewing, dating from 2009 to 2015 in an attempt to defuse public outrage over his tax affairs. Chancellor George Osborne is also considering publishing his tax returns.
It has also been revealed that Edward Troup, the soon-to-be leader of HMRC, previously worked at law firm Simmons & Simmon which represented a number of offshore companies, including Blairmore Holdings. Troup is currently serving as HMRC’s executive chair and permanent secretary.
There is no suggestion of wrongdoing by Troup, Simmons & Simmons or any of its clients.