With the onset of the Covid19 pandemic the UK government implemented the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme (CJRS), the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, and the Self Employment Support Scheme.
Due to the urgent nature of the problem these schemes were implemented quickly and largely without information or advice on the rules governing them. Several of the rules were altered and/or clarified in the weeks and months after implementation.
Innocent businesses caught
The speed and lack of information has led to an environment where businesses may well have found themselves unwittingly breaching the rules, opening themselves up to investigation and prosecution. Others may have taken the lack of oversight as opportunity to commit fraud.
It is now thought that up to £3.5 billion has been fraudulently claimed or paid in error. HMRC has signalled its intent to aggressively investigate all wrongful payments and prosecute those they believe have committed fraud.
It is likely that many innocent companies will be caught up in this activity, compounding the issues already created by the pandemic. Any investigation is likely to be thorough and stressful, causing significant financial cost.
Plan for the best – prepare for the worst
It is vital that any organisations facing HMRC investigations take advice at the earliest possible opportunity. Early and effective engagement can often prevent investigations from escalating and reduce the risk of prosecution.
Reeds Solicitors Complex Crime team
Our Complex Crime team is experienced in dealing with such investigations on behalf of our clients. Our team of solicitors, barristers and support staff are able to manage the process from start to finish on your behalf, significantly reducing the stress on you and your business allowing you to continue doing what you need to do to keep your business running. Early intervention can also often reduce overall costs to the business or avoid a prosecution through negotiation.
Julian Richards and Jon Wilkins are available to answer any questions that you might have without delay. If you believe that you may have unwittingly fallen foul of the rules or are currently the subject of an HMRC investigation or prosecution, please contact us immediately.
Legal 500 – Tier 1
“Reeds Solicitors provide an “outstanding” bespoke service to their clients at every step of the process. Working with some of the most experienced solicitors and barristers in the profession the firm ‘applies pre-charge strategic thinking to resolve each case at the earliest opportunity’.”
“Leading individual Julian Richards is recognised nationally as a specialist in serious and complex crime. The bulk of Julian’s practice involves white collar crime and the defence of directors and business professionals facing prosecution by HMRC, the SFO and the FCA.”
“Jon Wilkins, based in the Cardiff and London offices, is a Solicitor Advocate with a national presence, defending clients across England and Wales. Representing Company Directors & High Net Worth individuals is Jon’s speciality – he offers a bespoke service to individuals, company directors and businesses.”