Allegations that HMRC refused to raid company following political donations 'are of deep concern'

By agency reporter
April 23, 2018

A new investigation by Buzzfeed News that claims HMRC refused to raid a company suspected of money laundering and tax fraud, citing donations to a UK political party, is deeply concerning, says Transparency International. HMRC must now outline the exact reasons as to why it refused to act, in spite of a request from an international ally.

The report says that French authorities had requested HMRC to assist with their investigation of Lycamobile over money laundering and tax fraud. But Buzzfeed say they have seen a letter from HMRC noting that Lycamobile is the biggest corporate donor to the Conservative Party led by Prime Minister Theresa May and donated 1.25 million Euros to the Prince Charles Trust in 2012.”

 Commenting, Robert Barrington, Executive Director of Transparency International UK, said, “What donations Lycamobile have made to political parties in the UK should be of absolutely no relevance to our law enforcement agencies. If indeed this was a serious consideration by HMRC it would suggest that powerful commercial interests have achieved a degree of capture over a key institution by dint of political and philanthropic donations. No company or individual should ever be above the law.”

“HMRC must now make clear the exact reasons why they refused the request of their French colleagues, and should re-consider whether an investigation of their own is appropriate given that many of the alleged offences took place in the UK.”

“As the UK moves closer to Brexit it must demonstrate that it will uphold the rule of law, rather than offer impunity to the highest bidder. The government must also reflect on whether it is offering the right tone to HMRC and other institutions – the UK Anti-Corruption Strategy published last December was worryingly weak on exactly this kind of cronyistic, establishment-based corruption that is insidious, all too pervasive, and easily swept under the carpet.”

* Transparency International UK http://www.transparency.org.uk/

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