HMRC is investigating UK taxpayers connected with Puerto Rican-based Euro Pacific International Bank. The bank’s operations have been suspended for allegedly assisting clients with tax evasion and money laundering. HMRC is urging UK taxpayers with connections to the bank to check their tax position and contact them.

The Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement (known as J5, and of which HMRC is a member) carried out a global investigation into Euro Pacific International Bank in 2020. The investigation revealed that some bank customers were using sophisticated structures to launder money and evade tax.

HMRC is taking the matter extremely seriously as part of its “no safe havens” strategy. It is sending nudge letters to anyone it has identified as a customer of the bank, encouraging them to review their tax returns.

Simon York, HMRC’s head of Fraud Investigation and UK Chief of J5, says: “We have tax enquiries, criminal investigations and intelligence operations already underway involving this bank, and there will be more to come. Anyone with an account at this bank should come and speak to us before we come and speak to you.”

HMRC will be opening civil investigations or criminal investigations depending on each taxpayer’s circumstances and their response to the nudge letters. Anyone convicted of an offence will likely face a custodial sentence and have their assets confiscated under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

Concerned taxpayers can make a disclosure without being nudged by HMRC by using its Worldwide Disclosure Facility (WDF) or Contractual Disclosure Facility (commonly referred to as a Code of Practice 9 or COP9). Individuals using the COP9 facility receive immunity from criminal investigation and/or prosecution in return for full disclosure of all UK tax irregularities. It is important for taxpayers to decide which method is appropriate for them.

If you are or have been a customer of Euro Pacific International Bank, please contact Jill Springbett at jill.springbett@mgr.co.uk so that we can help you put your affairs in order.

Warning: The above is merely general guidance and should not be relied upon as formal advice. The advice we give to each client will depend on their specific circumstances. We suggest you take professional advice before taking any action in relation to the issues discussed above.