The taskforce was set up by the government following the leak of the Panama papers earlier this year, exposing the offshore tax havens used by some of the world’s most rich and powerful people. It included details on more than 214,000 offshore entities connected to people in more than 200 countries and territories.
When the taskforce was created seven months ago, it was said to be investigating 700 leads linked to Panama. The taskforce is led by HMRC and the National Crime Agency, while investigators, compliance specialists and analysts from the Serious Fraud Office and the Financial Conduct Authority also help on the cases.
In an update to the House of Commons, chancellor Philip Hammond and home secretary Amber Rudd said the £10m taskforce was actively investigating 22 individuals and 8 companies, but said “hundreds more” were under detailed review.
Since April, the team has also identified nine potential professional enablers of economic crime, placed 43 high net worth individuals under special review while their links to Panama are further investigated, and established links to eight active Serious Fraud Office investigations.
Jennie Granger, HMRC’s director general for customer compliance, said, “The net is closing in on tax evasion and economic crime and there are no safe havens for hiding money offshore. The vast majority of individuals and businesses pay their fair share and it’s on their behalf that the taskforce has made so much progress on so many fronts.
“The taskforce is leading the world on the acquisition and analysis of data that has enabled us to uncover and take swift action on evidence of wrongdoing – regardless of how deeply hidden the arrangements are. It will also enable us to identify those jurisdictions where regulatory oversight requires improvement.”
HMRC said that a joint financial analysis centre was also created within the taskforce to provide cutting-edge software tools and techniques.