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Arrests made following HMRC investigation into Euro Pacific Bank

Posted on 23 February 2023

HMRC has announced that it has made two arrests as part of its investigation into alleged tax evasion and money laundering involving the UK customers of the collapsed Puerto Rican bank Euro Pacific Bank (EPB).

Two men were arrested on suspicion of tax evasion and money laundering after HMRC officers executed search warrants at three residential and business addresses in the Liverpool area. Business records, computers and other devices were seized along with high-value assets such as watches and expensive clothing.

As discussed in our previous article, HMRC and its partners in the Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement (J5) conducted a two-year investigation into the affairs of EPB following its move from St. Vincent and the Grenadines to Puerto Rico. EPB's licence was suspended by the Puerto Rican Financial Regulator in June 2022, and it went into liquidation. HMRC subsequently undertook enquiries into British taxpayers that were suspected of doing business with the bank.

These arrests show that HMRC's investigation has gathered pace. It also confirms its intention to follow through on warnings to UK customers of EPB to come forward before it takes more serious action. It is anticipated that more arrests will follow given that HMRC has estimated that hundreds of UK customers used EPB's services. 

The ongoing investigation into EPB's customers is the J5's latest endeavour to fulfil its mandate of coordinating efforts to combat transnational tax crime.  

With these recent developments and the increased scrutiny faced by HMRC, UK customers of EPB would be wise to seek specialist legal advice in relation to their tax affairs as a whole.

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