Tackling fishing industry tax fraud

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A team of HM Revenue and Customs officers tackling tax and benefit fraud targeted towns in the North East of Scotland last week.

The officers are part of an HMRC taskforce focusing on tax evasion across the Scottish fishing industry including crews, fishing vessel owners and fish processors. The taskforce is expected to recover £3.6 million from tax dodgers.

The taskforce, codenamed ‘Operation Regor’, involved officers from HMRC, Police Scotland, Border Force, Home Office Immigration Enforcement, Aberdeenshire Council and the Gangmaster Licensing Authority.

Over the three-day operation officers from one or more of the agencies visited four fish processing factories, 11 fishing vessels and two houses of multiple occupancy (HMO’s).

The operation also aimed to identify occurrences of migrant labour abuse through fraudulent access to benefits and public services or by exploitative employers or landlords.

Over 300 employees were interviewed during the visits to the factories and HMRC is now pursuing leads on Houses of Multiply Occupancy (HMO) abuses and benefit and credit irregularities.

HMRC’s Road Fuel Testing Unit tested 36 large goods vehicles and two vehicles were seized for running on illegal fuel.

HMRC’s Jennie Granger, director general for enforcement and compliance, said: “Our message is clear - if you seek to evade tax or defraud the tax system, HMRC can and will track you down.

“You will face not only a heavy fine, but possibly a criminal prosecution as well.”

If you know anyone who is evading their taxes, you can tell HMRC via the Tax Evasion Hotline by phone, on 0800 788 887, by e-mail or by post.