Specialists in Serious Fraud and Complex Criminal Defence
VAT & MTIC Fraud Solicitors
MPR Solicitors have a wealth of experience of defending VAT and Missing Trader Intra-Community Fraud (MTIC) cases. We are a specialist practise, dealing almost exclusively in criminal defence, fraud and white-collar crime. As such we are wholly focused on defending clients in these areas of law.
To contact us regarding a charge of VAT and MTIC fraud, please call our office on 020 3824 8080 to make an appointment at our London office.
As a team, we provide partner-led, quality, professional service. If you have been accused of fraud, your professional reputation, career, and freedom may be at stake. You can trust us to provide expert advice and robust representation while supporting you and your family throughout the case.
It is important in these cases to secure representation and obtain early involvement by a specialist fraud solicitor at the earliest stage of the investigation in order that we can properly advise and safeguard your interest. Sometimes early intervention and involvement can mean that the investigation is resolved without the need for criminal proceedings. Our fraud team is partner-led, able to swiftly work through the elements of an investigation to build a robust defence for you or your company.
Our practice focuses on our core areas of law; therefore clients who instruct us can be confident of our in-depth knowledge and experience in defending matters of serious fraud. As these types of cases are extremely complex, many high street criminal defence firms do not have the resources, contacts or expertise to defend a serious fraud case effectively. MPR Solicitors are a member of the Ministry of Justice’s Very High Cost Cases (VHCC) panel and its predecessor, the Specialist Fraud Panel. This membership demonstrates our expertise and experience in fraud cases. In particularly complex serious fraud cases we can put together a team to prepare a strong, persuasive defence. Our team has successfully defended cases and have acted for clients who have been accused of cross-jurisdictional VAT and MTIC fraud offences.
If you have been accused of fraud, it is crucial that you take the charge seriously and instruct quality, experienced fraud solicitors to advise and represent you.
What is fraud?
Fraud can be defined as acting dishonestly or employing trickery to gain an advantage. In most cases of fraud, this advantage constitutes a financial gain.
The Fraud Act 2006 governs the offence of fraud in the United Kingdom.
Dishonesty is required for fraud to have occurred, but critically, it is not essential for the accused to have gained an advantage because of their actions.
What is VAT evasion?
It is an offence under section 72(1) of the Value Added Tax Act 1994, for someone to be ‘knowingly concerned’ with taking steps with a view to fraudulently evade paying VAT. The offence is triable either way as an indictable or summary offence. This means the Magistrates Court must decide, on the first hearing whether the case is serious enough to be tried on indictment before a judge and jury in the Crown Court.
There are several steps the prosecution must prove to gain a conviction. As defence solicitors, we excel in examining the details of your alleged offence and constructing a robust defence by placing doubt in the mind of the magistrate, judge or jury.
What must the prosecution prove in VAT fraud?
The prosecution must prove:
- That VAT was owing for the relevant period,
- You are taking steps with a view to evading tax that is owed. “Taking steps with a view to” is relatively wide, and can include preparatory conduct (something we would strongly defend). An example would be failing to inform HMRC that the turnover of your organisation had reached the limit for VAT exemption.
- You sought to “fraudulently evade” paying VAT. This requires dishonest conduct deliberately intended to evade paying the tax owned. The prosecution does not have to prove the tax would never have been paid to HMRC; therefore, merely paying taxes late could be construed as fraudulent evasion if dishonesty is present.
What is the sentence for fraudulently evading VAT tax?
Evasion of VAT payments is punishable on summary conviction by a fine of the statutory maximum (£20,000 for offences committed in on or after 12th March 2015) or three times the amount of the VAT owed (whichever is greater), or six months imprisonment. Conviction on indictment is punishable by an unlimited fine or up to seven years’ imprisonment or both.
What is VAT “acquisition fraud”?
Acquisition fraud, involves people importing goods free from VAT from another country and selling them to local buyers with the VAT attached. The seller of the goods then disappears (becoming the missing trader), and fails to pay the VAT tax to the government. This is a simple version of MTIC fraud and is difficult to prove, meaning convictions are uncommon.
Goods most commonly used in acquisition fraud are mobile phones, computer chips and other electronic devices.
What is carousel fraud?
Carousel fraud is a more complex version of acquisition fraud. This involves people importing VAT-free goods, but rather than on selling them in the domestic market, the goods are transferred through a series of companies (many of whom may be innocent buffers), each one liable for VAT. The goods are then exported, possibly back to the original vendor. They then start the “carousel” all over again, having claimed the VAT which should have gone to the government.
The goods used in MTIC frauds are usually high value, easily portable goods so that the VAT paid by the innocent ‘buffer’ (and stolen by the “missing trader”) can be taken full advantage of.
My company has been caught up in a carousel fraud – what should I do?
Complex carousel fraud can involve hundreds of companies, so there is a risk that an innocent business will become caught up and used as a buffer. Often, by the time HMRC has discovered and investigated a complex carousel fraud, the fraudsters have escaped, leaving empty-shell VAT registered companies in their wake. The only connections left to the fraud, who may have assets that can be sold to reclaim the VAT lost, are the unknowing buffers.
The HMRC has the power to pursue companies used as buffers of they knew or ought to have known that the “missing trader” importer would not pay VAT in the goods.
If you suspect your business has been caught up in an MTIC fraud or HMRC is pursuing you in connection with such a fraud, quick, decisive action is required. We understand fraud and can work with specialist tax accountants to ensure we have the technical expertise to defend you. We can also advise you if you are offered an unusual or “too good to be true” transaction that may be part of a carousel, thereby dragging you into the ring.
MTIC can not only cost an organisation significant money, but it can also damage its reputation. If you have any suspicions regarding a transaction, talk to us immediately.
To contact our VAT and MTIC fraud solicitors in complete confidence, please call 020 3824 8080 or fill in our contact form to get in touch.
MPR Solicitors are the solicitors of choice for anybody accused of any Serious Fraud including VAT or MTIC fraud.