A SPECIAL task force has been established to root out tax dodgers in the Scottish fishing industry.
The special group, launched today by HM Revenue and Customs,will cover all areas of the Scottish fishing industry, and focus on tax evasion by crews, fishing vessel owners and fish processors. It is expected to recover £3.6 million from tax dodgers
An HMRC spokesman said: “The taskforce will target offenders by using all intelligence and third party information sources available to HMRC. HMRC will also work closely with Police Scotland, Immigration Enforcement, Border Force and the Gangmasters Licensing Authority in a multi-agency approach to identify occurrences of migrant labour abuse either through fraudulent access to benefits and public services or by exploitative employers.”
David Gauke, the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, said: “The vast majority of people working in the Scottish fishing industry are law-abiding people who pay the right taxes at the right time but their livelihoods are often undermined by those who do not play by the rules. We are determined to support those hardworking people who want to get on in this industry and every other. However, the people being targeted by this taskforce have no intention of playing by the rules. The Government has made it clear that we will not tolerate tax evasion and we have provided HMRC with the resources to crack down on those who break the rules.“
Jennie Granger HMRC’s 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.
“Collaboration with other Government departments and agencies will mean there is a co-ordinated approach to risks in this industry.”
Last year a Shetland processing company at the heart of a massive “black fish” scam was been stripped of assets worth £1.5 million and confiscation orders totalling almost £3million imposed against 17 skippers for their involvement in illegal fish landings.