Now that the dust has settled and the fuss has died down, what lessons can we learn from a court case which was played out in the full glare of the public?
Below is a list of five things of note arising from an investigation which lasted five years and cost at least £1.3 million.
- That not all tax evasion cases are immediately made public. In October 2011, former Portsmouth football club chairman Milan Mandaric and Peter Storrie, Portsmouth’s former chief executive, were cleared of tax evasion charges at a separate trial. Reporting restrictions forbade the press from releasing the outcome of the Mandaric trial until the Redknapp trial ended. The Redknapp trial jury were not made aware that Mandaric and Storrie had been cleared.
- That Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) seem unrepentant about the case reaching court. Reacting to the ‘Not Guilty’ decision, Chris Martin, assistant director of Criminal Investigations at the HMRC, said: “I have no regrets about pursuing this case because it was vitally important that the facts were put before a jury for their consideration.”
- That Harry Redknapp’s trial might well have been handled differently on the continent. Simon Jenkins, writing about the case in the Guardian, questioned whether the jury system (as was used in the Redknapp case) provided the expert grasp of financial matters needed to make an informed decision about cases such as Redknapp’s. Jenkins wrote: “In most of Europe even big trials take place before judges and professional assessors, while sentencing is out of the public gaze in private.” The journalist went on to say: “Had Redknapp been found guilty, he could have gone to jail for an offence that in most countries would have merited a quiet visit from the revenue and a cheque.”
- That a tax evasion case can be a costly business. Redknapp and Mandaric were accused of illegally depriving the public revenue of £189,000 of taxes. On 10th February 2012 HMRC told the BBC that the cost of the investigation has so far amounted to £1.3 million – £300,000 for the investigation and £1 million for Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) costs.
- That it could be you: Harry Redknapp had to face public scrutiny after being charged with tax evasion and it could be you next. From April 2011 any person charged with a civil tax penalty for “deliberate failure” (that’s tax evasion to you and I) where the liability exceeds £25,000 could have their name published by the taxman. Even if you are cleared of charges, the mud attached to your name could, theoretically, stick in people’s minds. The HMRC investigates the tax affairs of around one in 540 people in the UK so you might find your name makes an unwelcome appearance in the local newspaper.
Using a good business directory like Thomson Local can help you find details of good accountants and book keepers so that you can keep your financial affairs in order and avoid the wrath of the tax man.
[Picture by Images of Money]