Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Redknapp & the tax-fiddling dog

In my YouTube video ( Tax Evasion for Pets ) Kim the tax fiddling collie opens her own bank account

As the trial progresses we will learn more about what Redknapp was allegedly up to, but this article should help you understand what went on, according to HMRC’s lawyers...

Back in the day – when I was a Tax Inspector investigating suspected tax fraud, it was not unusual to find money stashed away in other people’s names. The fiddler would often set up accounts in the name of his or her spouse, parents or children. I must say Harry Redknapp’s case – where the account was named after his dog – is taking things to a whole new level

When Redknapp flew to Monaco to open the account, that account was apparently called ‘Rosie 47’ – named after his dog plus the year of his (not his dog’s) birth. As the trial continues we are yet to hear from Mr Redknapp about the money lodged to this account, but it seems that when quizzed he kept changing his story about how the money ended up there. It was an investmenta gifta loanemployment incomenone of these

This is no surprise to those of us handling tax investigations, albeit now on the side of the client. When someone is backed in a corner he panics. He starts spouting off random explanations for where the money came from. He thinks he can guess which answer shows him in the best light. When probed further he retracts that line and takes another.

The real reason Redknapp is in the dock is not for failing to declare the money (HMRC could have settled that quietly with him.) The real reason is that he was under investigation by the Revenue concerning previous bonus payments – and ‘forgot’ to mention the Monaco account and lodgements.

In almost all high-profile prosecutions there is an aggravating factor. The ancient Lester Piggott tax case is another example. There, as in the Redknapp case, in the process of a tax investigation the suspect thought it was still a good idea to conceal the truth. That’s when cuddly Mr Tax-Man turns nasty and starts thinking about court!

This case should provide good viewing over the next couple of weeks, especially if Harry Redknapp chooses to take to the stand and try to explain what he was at. One wondersis there an innocent reason to fly to a tax haven, name a bank account after your dog, and then conceal its existence from your accountant and the tax people?

HMRC and the Police believe the money paid into Redknapp’s account by the former Portsmouth FC chairman Milan Mandaric were part of Redknapp’s share of a commission on transfer payments. The prosecution is of both Redknapp and Mandaric for ‘cheating the public revenue’ by avoiding tax on the payments. This is standard wording used in tax trials.

Some readers will be surprised that Redknapp hid the money from his accountants as well as HMRC. In fact this is normal practice with people cheating HMRC. They know that by telling their professional adviser, that person will be duty-bound to declare it to HMRC. If they change accountants over the row, then the new accountant should learn about the issue from the former one.

If you, or one of your pets, have been accused of tax evasion, make sure you seek specialist tax help as early as possible. It could save you many thousands and could keep you out of jail.

Adrian Huston, a former tax inspector, is a director of Belfast tax and accountancy firm Huston & Co – www.huston.co.uk or 028 9080 6080.

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