Better to actually evade tax than tip off someone who might have

From my news sources today come two items. Mr Kishor Doshi a Sunderland accountant has been warned by a judge to prepare himself for a custodial sentence after a jury found him guilty of tipping off a clent that he had been served with a production order. Mr Michael Frosh however pleaded guilty to deliberately falsifying self-assessment returns to the tune of £65,000. He received a suspended sentence and 80 hours of community service.

What larks, Pip, what larks?

 

Jack Harper

Comments

disgraceful

The Black Knight | | Permalink

What was he supposed to tell him if he asked.

Does the law want honest liars ? I am so confused, even if I did lie, I know that I am rubbish at it,

Would you go to prison for being a bad liar ?

client "where are my records ? "

accountant " I don't know I have mislaid them " ?

"The office dog has eaten them and then he died so has been cremated and we are all in bits and the policemen you saw came to wipe up the tears " ?

"I am not allowed to comment on such matters "

or **** off I have turrets and can't spell either"

 

 

 

 

 

davidwinch's picture

Mr Doshi - further information

davidwinch | | Permalink

There is a report in the Sunderland Echo here concerning Mr Doshi.  Although the report is not specific about the offence it would appear that Mr Doshi has been convicted of prejudicing a money laundering investigation contrary to s342 PoCA 2002.

There is another report which appears to be related here. This includes a reported allegation that "Sunderland-based Otax Ltd, did not have procedures in place to identify and report any “suspicious” activity being carried out by their clients or employees".

The press reports suggest that Mr Doshi's employers were served with a Crown Court Order under s345 PoCA 2002, known as a 'production order'.  Such an order requires the production of documents specified in the order (such as correspondence files and working papers relating to a client and any of the client's records in the accountant's possession).  Normally the specified documents must be produced to the investigating officer within 7 days.

It is important in these circumstances that the client is NOT informed of the existence of the order - but it appears that Mr Doshi telephoned the client and told him about it.

(It is also important that all the specified documents in the accountant's possession are produced and that they are not 'improved' or altered before being produced - this is not a technical practice assurance test to see that the accountant has initialled all the 'work done' boxes!  Concealing documents or falsifying them, or even shredding them, are also offences under s342.)

The jury must have been sure that Mr Doshi knew, or at least suspected, that by telling the client about the production order served on his firm he would be prejudicing the police investigation (although he apparently said in evidence that he had not read the whole of the production order before telephoning the client about it and that he believed it related to a tax enquiry rather than a police money laundering investigation).

Obviously he is not a reader of the items on here!

David

John Stokdyk's picture

First with the news - again

John Stokdyk | | Permalink

This is pretty topical given last week's debate about the PoCA confiscation order - and once again the members of this group have broken the news. You can now follow up our news report, which is also based on the Sunderland Echo coverage. As well as the articles David mentioned, there is another Echo court report from Wednesday which summarises more of the evidence presented. It's not just the legal principles that merit debate. The different standards applied under different legal and regulatory regimes are turning this whole area into a legal quagmire. Must be good for business, eh David?

cymraeg_draig's picture

.

cymraeg_draig | | Permalink

 Must be good for business, eh David?

 

Posted by jstokdyk on Fri, 11/02/2011 - 18:45

 

David loves it - by this time next year he'll be driving around in a Rolls Royce - Pssssssssssst David, do you need a dodgy scheme to hide some of that dosh :) 

Joking apart, I wonder how many of us would have rung a client in similar circumstances, not thinking anyone would know we'd rung ?  I wonder whether the possible implications even crossed his mind, after all he's an accountant, not a legal expert.

Assuming the production order didnt have a specific warning in big red letters on the first page I think a lot of people might have done the same.  

 

davidwinch's picture

Seems to be no recession in crime!

davidwinch | | Permalink

John

Yes, I am managing to keep busy!

David

davidwinch's picture

Code of practice

davidwinch | | Permalink

There is a Code of Practice to be followed by police etc when serving a production order on, for example, an accountant.  It includes the following:

25.  When serving the order, warrant or (in the case of a disclosure order and customer information order) notice under the order, a covering letter must be provided which includes the following information (unless it is already included in the order or the notice):
• The name of the subject of the order or the name by which he or she is known;
• A warning in plain language that failure without reasonable excuse to comply with the requirement is an offence and could result in prosecution;
A statement to the effect that disclosure of information about the investigation may contravene section 342 of the Act (offences of prejudicing investigation), and that if anyone contacts the respondent about the investigation they should report this to the appropriate officer or appropriate person;
• That the warning given does not constitute a criminal caution, nor has the consequences of one;
• A general description of the investigation in connection with which the requirement is made (it is not necessary to specify the name of the person or property subject to the investigation on the order, although this information must be given to the judge as part of the application process);
• That the subject of the order should seek legal advice or ask the appropriate officer about any doubts or concerns they may have, or for guidance on complying with the order;
• The duty not to falsify, conceal, destroy or otherwise dispose of, or cause or permit the falsification, concealment, destruction or disposal of relevant documents which are relevant to any investigation under the Act which the subject of the order knows or suspects is being or is about to be conducted, and a warning that to do so is an offence punishable by up to five years imprisonment and an unlimited fine;
The duty not to disclose to any other person information or any other matter which is likely to prejudice any investigation under the Act which the subject of the order knows or suspects is being or is about to be conducted, and a warning that to do so is an offence punishable by up to five years imprisonment and an unlimited fine; and
• The right to apply for a variation or discharge of the order (not applicable in search and seizure warrants).

David

cymraeg_draig's picture

If its there -

cymraeg_draig | | Permalink

"Covering letters" - usually a poorly photocopied pile of official gobbledy-gook that is buried amongst a pile of papers served.  Often not even served to start with. 

Agreed people should read everything that is served, but like the small print on contracts, most people don't.

  

practical ?

The Black Knight | | Permalink

Ok. accepting that this chap was a bit daft phoning his client ,

What would happen if the client asked ?

are you are expected to be dishonest and lie ?

should they provide standard wording that you are allowed to use to reply to such a question ?

as it seems to me that any answer could be tipping off if not delivered by an expert liar.

perhaps the best practical method is not to return the clients calls or hide when they turn up ? or would that give the game away too ?

Re what to do if asked by client

Laurence52 | | Permalink

Re kalden's query as to what to do if asked by a client, I would think that saying something like "If I was ever to be asked by the police to pass over clients papers I would not be allowed to tell you as I would be breaking the law", so you are not giving anything away and you are not lying.

 

billgilcom's picture

If I was ever to be asked.....

billgilcom | | Permalink

Now of course the first thing you think of saying to a client when he asks for his records (and of course that is normal for a client to turn up and ask for his records) is to mention the police in the same sentence - TIPPING OFF or what?

Clearly if a client turned up and asked after their records my first question would be why do you want to know about your records that I am NOT holding.....

cymraeg_draig's picture

I think it would go something like this -

cymraeg_draig | | Permalink

 

 

  • Counsel - "Did you tip off the client"
  • Accountant - "No"
  • Counsel - "So when he asked you that what did you do"
  • Accountant - "I lied"
  • Counsel - "So you admit to being a practiced liar, why should the court believe any of your evidence" ?

 

 

I think the answer is, make damn certain there are no witnesses and you only speak face to face (no emails, phone calls etc).

This really is another example of the law being an ass.

Caber Feidh's picture

An innocuous response?

Caber Feidh | | Permalink

Perhaps:

"As part of our quality management procedures, your file is currently being independently assessed. To maintain their independence, these assessors insist on anonymity. I do not know when they will complete their assessment and return your file."

vinaymehta1959's picture

Profession is a joke.

vinaymehta1959 | | Permalink

 

The client pays the accountant for his time advice and work done, the accountant has a duty to his client. 

As long as Mr. Doshi has neither tempered with the documents nor advised/encouraged  the client to do so himself what is the problem.

 

 

 

 

See what I mean ?

The Black Knight | | Permalink

all answers seem to tip off client that there is something wrong.

perhaps the safest (as in not tipping off the client is concerned) and most unbelievable is

" the gestapo have taken them " after all they say the truth is stranger than fiction.

did Mr Doshi perhaps use the G word as I know they don't like that. lol

davidwinch's picture

@ vinaymehta1959

davidwinch | | Permalink

"As long as Mr. Doshi has neither tempered with the documents nor advised/encouraged  the client to do so himself what is the problem."

The problem is not "the profession" but (i) the police and Crown Prosecution Service who have prosecuted Mr Doshi for 'prejudicing an investigation' (i.e.  potentially damaging their investigation) by letting the client know that the police were on to him and (ii) the jury who must have been sure that Mr Doshi knew, or at least suspected, that by telling the client about the production order served on his firm he would be prejudicing the police investigation.

In other words neither the police or the jury believed Mr Doshi when he said he thought he was doing the right thing when he telephoned the client to say he had received a court order requiring him to hand over information about the client and his company.

The defence apparently argued that there was no evidence that the police investigation had been adversely affected.  That obviously was not enough to get Mr Doshi acquitted - we wait to see whether it is enough to keep him out of prison.

My understanding is that one of Mr Doshi's clients was a company that provided door staff to pubs and clubs.  Such security companies need a licence under the Private Security Industry Act 2001.  Apparently the client company did not have the necessary licence and a police prosecution is underway for that offence.

In the course of their investigations the police apparently obtained a court order requiring Mr Doshi to produce documents in his possession relating to the client.  Mr Doshi's offence was telling the client about that court order.

David

cymraeg_draig's picture

Prejudice

cymraeg_draig | | Permalink

.....  the police and Crown Prosecution Service who have prosecuted Mr Doshi for 'prejudicing an investigation' (i.e.  potentially damaging their investigation) by letting the client know that the police were on to him  Posted by davidwinch on Mon, 14/02/2011 - 18:01

 

This "law" flies in the face of fundemental rights such as freedom of speech & freedom of association.

I wonder how the powers that be square this with newspapers who constantly "prejudice investigations" with their headlines such as "John Smith arrested for rape", or "Deceased neighbour John Smith arrested on suspicion of murder" etc.

You would be amazed how often totally innocent people are falsely arrested and accused, but once sensationalist headlines appear so called "witnesses" appear seeking their 15 minutes of fame. Now that DOES prejudice investigations.

 

Gerard Murray's picture

Ignorantia Juris non Excusat

Gerard Murray | | Permalink

  Ignorance of the law is no excuse, or so we are told by virtually every criminal code from Roman times onwards. The cynics are doubters of this may very reasonably point to the words of Lord Mansfield in the late 18th century who wryly opined ‘it would be very hard upon the [legal profession, if the law was so certain, that everybody knew it.’ Lawyers would not make any money in that way. In similar another learned jurist, Mr Justice Maule once remarked ‘everybody is presumed to know the law except His Majesty’s judges, who have a Court of Appeal set over them to put them right.’

 

As accountants, we are most indebted to Jack Harper and his eagle eye spotting the report in the ‘Sunderland Echo’ about the events in Newcastle Crown Court and Mr Kishor Doshi who was found guilty, under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, of making a disclosure likely to have prejudiced a police investigation into one of his clients. In his defence he stated, inter alia, that he thought he had a right to disclose the existence of a police Production Order to his client, and that he did not k now that the Production Order, authorised by a judge, related to a criminal investigation, and finally his counsel argued that that there was ‘no shred of evidence’ that the police investigation had been compromised by Mr Doshi’s actions.The jury took just thirty minutes to find Mr Doshi guilty as charged and he now awaits sentence. As the case is not concluded I do not wish to write anything that could be misconstrued as attempting to influence sentencing.

 

However, with regard to a number of the postings on this subject I am intrigued by the comment –‘The client pays the accountant for his time advice and work done, the accountant has a duty to his client ‘ implying that it is all the profession’s fault. Since the passing into law of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 , the accountancy bodies in the UK and Ireland have gone to enormous lengths to ensure that their members are fully aware of their legal responsibilities in what they should do and in what they must not do. It has been the subject dominating writings, courses and general discussion, especially as a number of accountants in practice have been successfully prosecuted under this legislation.

 

There has even been an amendment of the original tipping-off offences contained in Part 7 of POCA 2002 by way of the Amendment Regulations of 2007. Under the new regime POCA 2002 section333A, firstly it is an offence to disclose to any person that a suspicious activity report (SAR) has been made to a constable, an officer of HM revenue and Customs, a nominated officer or the Serious Organized Crimes Agency (SOCA). Secondly, it is an offence to disclose that a money laundering investigation under Part 7 of POCA is  being contemplated or carried out. The wording of statute is quite clear and unambiguous. The Doshi case may be wake up call to accountants to carefully re-examine the  present legislation, and ensure understanding of the law and full compliance with it rather than the knee-jerk reaction that the legislation and the actions of the police and CPS in implementing it are a denial of fundamental rights.

cymraeg_draig's picture

knee jerk reaction ?

cymraeg_draig | | Permalink

The Doshi case may be wake up call to accountants to carefully re-examine the  present legislation, and ensure understanding of the law and full compliance with it rather than the knee-jerk reaction that the legislation and the actions of the police and CPS in implementing it are a denial of fundamental rights.

 

Posted by Gerard Murray on Mon, 14/02/2011 - 20:52

 

Hardly a "knee jerk reaction" given that its compatability with existing fundemental rights is due to be tested in front of the european court later this year.

I am aware of a case (yet to reach court) in which a client phoned his accountant and quite reasonably asked for his books, which had been handed to the accountant for accounts to be prepared. These had been taken by the police with a production order so the accountant did not have them. The accountant was aware of the danger of "tipping off", but, was also not prepared to lie. He therefore simply stated that he no longer had them and was not at liberty to tell the client who did have them.  He has been charged with "tipping off" !

So, are we now at the point where professional people who actually trade on their trustworthiness sare being ordered to lie?  If so, perhaps each production order should be accompanied by an "official pack of lies" for the accountant to tell his client.

Exactly what is permissable if the client asks for records seized?  I cant think of anything that isnt capable of being construed by the muppets at the CPS as "tipping off" - even silence and a refusal to speak to the client could be construed as tipping off if the client already suspects he may be under investigation.

No matter how its wrapped up or ammended, this still remains bad law which brings justice into disrepute.

 

 

Tipping off and the ECHR

Stephen Morris | | Permalink

@ C_D

Do you have details of the case to be heard by the ECtHR later this year? If so, could you psot them here? Would like to follow such a case.

Many thanks

Stephen

 

It seems to me....

rworboys | | Permalink

The lesson learned here is to deal with the client's records as quickly as possible, return them with the accounts etc (and a bill!) so reducing the chances of being in posession of them should a production order be granted. If the order is for my working papers there is no prospect of tipping off as the client would not ask for them and I would keep copies in any event.

Simple risk management.

But please don't mistake this as condoning the ridiculous situation in which we find ourselves!

 

What's the fuss?

jpcc1 | | Permalink

What is the fuss about? If you saw an old lady being mugged in the street would you walk by because it was inconvenient and unpleasant to do your bit to uphold the law? Grow up and think about the bigger picture!

We're talking about a situation in which crime, and very likely serious crime, is being investigated. If those suspected are in fact guilty, the fact that they suddenly become aware of a police investigation only encourages them, and gives them opportunity, to hide evidence, proceeds etc. So the law says, don't tell them.

So, don't tell them ! Yes, it's inconvenient and unpleasant for you as an accountant to feel your professional reputation is at risk because the client thinks you're incompetent or something, but get over it.

 

 

cymraeg_draig's picture

.

cymraeg_draig | | Permalink

So, don't tell them ! Yes, it's inconvenient and unpleasant for you as an accountant to feel your professional reputation is at risk because the client thinks you're incompetent or something, but get over it.

 

Posted by jpcc1 on Tue, 15/02/2011 - 09:31

 

A simplistic and naive view I'm afraid. 

If you say anything that could be construed as "tipping off" - you face prosecution.

If you refuse to say anything - that can be construed as tipping off and you face prosecution. 

So, you are left with the option of lying. And if you're a poor liar and the client realises something is wrong, you could face who knows what?  A client thinking that because youre lying you must have informed on him?  Good look walking down any dark alleys.  

Gerard

The Black Knight | | Permalink

I think most of us are aware of this legislation, it has been around a long time and we have been bombarded with courses and the bills for those courses, frightened and bullied into compliance.

Who would not submit to a school bully who has a never ending supply of like minded mates on their way too.

but can also see that some of this legislation is ridiculous (see the above tipping off example) where you may have to accept that you will be guilty of tipping off whatever you do.

what really p******* me off is the lack of respect the law has for an honest man, not even understanding that lying is not a way of life, for quite a lot of us.

So whilst complying I am still wriggling,

unfortunately for me I grew up in a short period of history where freedom seemed possible, and was also told I had freedom of speech ? Only to see those liberties erroded, no doubt soon I will be forced to go on skiing holidays because that is normal and safe instead of motorcycling in case I hurt myself.

What is clear is that it does not take a great stretch of the imagination to picture a scenario where each and everyone of us may accidentally fall foul of this legislation.

 

davidwinch's picture

The PoCA 'communication' offences

davidwinch | | Permalink

I think we need to be clear about the two offences in PoCA 2002 which might arise from communicating with clients or third parties.

The 'tipping-off' offence is in s333A PoCA 2002.  This makes it an offence to disclose to anyone outside your firm (with specified exceptions) the fact that a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) has been made either internally to the firm's MLRO or externally to SOCA or the police.  It is also an offence to tell anyone outside your firm that a money laundering investigation is underway (or under contemplation) by the authorities.

It does not make it an offence to, for example, advise your client what he is doing wrong and how to put it right - or to tell him that he could be in big trouble if the authorities find out what he is doing / failing to do.

It does not make it an offence to set out all the issues in a professional clearance letter if the client instructs a new accountant.

I cannot actually think of any reason why I would want to tell a client that I had reported him to the authorities or that he was under investigation for money laundering.  So I have no problem with tipping off.

The 'prejudicing an investigation' offence is in s342 PoCA 2002.  This offence can only be committed when you know or suspect that either your client is already the subject of a money laundering or criminal investigation or that he is about to become the subject of such an investigation.  The offence is that you disclose information which you know or suspect will prejudice (i.e. impede or disadvantage) that investigation by the authorities, or you falsify, conceal or destroy documents relevant to the investigation.

In other words the offence is committed when you are actively assisting the 'bad guys'.

Accountants in general practice will rarely be faced with circumstances in which they know or suspect that their client is (or is about to be) subject to such an investigation.  We are not talking about routine HMRC tax enquiries here.

If you know or suspect your client is in this sort of trouble one would hope that you would be especially careful about what you do and say.

Is that asking too much?

David

A simplistic and naive view I'm afraid.

jpcc1 | | Permalink

 

A simplistic and naive view I'm afraid.  Posted by cymraeg_draig on Tue, 15/02/2011 – 10:10   CD. No, it is a realistic and pragmatic view.  A production order is not issued on a whim. It is authorised only on sufficient evidence based suspicion.  This is nowhere as simplistic as your comment, “If you say anything that could be construed as "tipping off" - you face prosecution. If you refuse to say anything - that can be construed as tipping off and you face prosecution.“  Unjustified, sweeping statements such as these are easy to make but ill-informed. Every working day, banks, accountants etc handle scores, if not hundreds, of these situations professionally, without upsetting the client or the authorities. Granted, a few situations may be arkward, but they are uncommon.  The case described in the original post is exceptionally rare and involves a case proven in court, before a jury. He was found guilty after all the evidence was reviewed and his defence heard. His claim that he did not realise what he was doing was not believed. In other words he broke the law. He did not make an attempt to maintain the confidentiality of a police investigation and deliberately prejuidiced that investigation. Does that not warrant due punishment? 

cymraeg_draig's picture

YES

cymraeg_draig | | Permalink

Is that asking too much?

David

 

Posted by davidwinch on Tue, 15/02/2011 - 10:48

 

Being "investigated" is not the same thing as being guilty.  And if not tipping off means having to lie then at that point it is too much to ask.  Police officers and tax inspectors may be practiced liars (indeed its second nature to a lot of them, even in court), but a professional person should not be required to lie to his clients - ever.

davidwinch's picture

Confidentiality

davidwinch | | Permalink

C_D

The accountant is being asked to keep something (i.e. the police investigation) confidential.

That should not be an alien concept to an accountant!

David

Confidentiality v's telling lies

The Black Knight | | Permalink

David

I do not think the issue is about confidentiality although traditionally that duty was to the client, not the state police. Interestingly now the client has no right to confidentiality but the police do.

but accidentally prejudicing an enquiry is of concern

as you say most accountants will perhaps never come across this in practice as presumably a client in that much trouble was long since an ex client (following professional rules you would have already declined to act)

However there are many other offences that a (tax clean) client may fall foul of, and this case would seem to have started from a non tax issue, and it is quite likely that being an accountant you will not be trained in all aspects of the law.

and if you only have to deal with this once in every ten years I would suggest you are at greater risk than someone that deals with this daily. I still have no idea of what I would say in that situation to sound convincing and not sure that I could lie ? What then is the practical thing to do ? Would I for example be able to phone you or other adviser outside my organisation ?

C_D is right, if we are expected to have standards (honesty, integrity, independence etc) then the law should not really expect you to then disregard them for a nobler ? cause

My concern is that these powers, will sooner or later be wielded inappropriately, and there appear to be little or no safeguards in place.

confidentiality answer

The Black Knight | | Permalink

Is usually, straight up "I have a duty of confidentiality to my client and I am not allowed to tell you without their consent." easy and a daily occurance.

substitute police for client and you have a tipping off offence in progress ?

davidwinch's picture

@ kalden

davidwinch | | Permalink

Kalden

If you are my client and I say to you, "You have been evading tax and you need to sort that out with the taxman (with my help)" that is not an offence.

If I say to you, "You have been evading tax and I have reported you to the authorities" that is (perhaps) an offence.

But why would I say that?

David

I get that bit

The Black Knight | | Permalink

it's if a client

asks for his records and why he cannot have them.

or asks have you reported me ? or are the police likely to investigate? or will they do they know?

type questions that are a bit more difficult to evade. particulary without lowering my standards and lying.

and if the client refuses to put right the tax errors ? are you going to report me ? "no I chose the 5 year option ? "

You can only hope that the client has no knowledge of this legislation (described in your engagement letter) at all.

otherwise will be tipping off ? will it not ?

at this point you are required to disengage (professional conduct rules) anyway so would no longer act for the client anyway.

C-D gives a real life example above.

 

carnmores's picture

the answer is as suggested above to

carnmores | | Permalink

copy or scan all records in and return them asap

i hate keeping client records anyway

davidwinch's picture

Telling the client

davidwinch | | Permalink

Kalden

There are circumstances in which it is permitted to tell the client that you have reported him - but I generally steer clear of discussing them because of the danger that the law may be misunderstood (and I don't want anyone to get themselves into hot water because they have misunderstood something I have written).

If you are a legal adviser or "relevant professional adviser" (as defined in the legislation) and you tell the client "for the purpose of dissuading the client from engaging in conduct amounting to an offence" then that is not a tipping-off offence.

Similarly it is not an offence if you do "not know or suspect that the disclosure is likely to have the effect" of prejudicing an investigation.

But obviously if you do tell the client, you must be prepared to justify your decision to tell him.

If the client guesses that you have reported him and you do not deny it then that is not an offence either (because you have not disclosed that you have reported him).

So if asked by the client it is OK to say, "We comply with our legal obligations but we are not permitted to say whether a report has been made in any particular case".

In practice it is (in my experience at least) more often solicitors (rather than accountants) who receive these production orders (and of course banks have special departments staffed with people dealing with these all day long).

Typically the police will be wanting a solicitor's conveyancing file when the person they are investigating has purchased or sold property (and many years' worth of bank statements from the banks).

David

vinaymehta1959's picture

CONFIDENTIALITY

vinaymehta1959 | | Permalink

 

This gets even worse. Either there is more to this or the Police are acting like thugs again with the aid of the Court Order Production Line System.

If the client's documents in the possession of Mr. Doshi were relevant for accounting purposes and were solely used for that  function only, then Mr. Doshi has done nothing wrong. If however the said documents were not relevant to accounting purposes and could be used as evidence against Mr. Doshi's client than the courts and the police are right string up the accountant.  

Assuming that the documents were solely relating to accountancy matters and Mr. Doshi had or was going to sue it for that purpose than he has every right to question his client as to the validity and legality of these documents and ask him why are the asking for them if they are Kosher. Mr Doshi is using the information and documents made available to him by his client in good faith,  now it has come to his attention that the documents might not be reliable for accounting purposes.   

 

 

 

davidwinch's picture

The offence

davidwinch | | Permalink

The offence of which Mr Doshi was convicted was disclosing information to his client about the police investigation (namely that he had received a court order requiring him to produce specified documents to the police).

This has nothing to do with what use Mr Doshi had made, or intended to make, of his client's accounting records.

David

cymraeg_draig's picture

Grey

cymraeg_draig | | Permalink

The big problem with this is that its not black and white.

Make a withdrawal from Barclays using a cheque book, and its legal - make a withdrawal from Barclays using a shot gun and its illegal - simple, everyone understands that.

However, in the case of so called "tipping off" its not that simple.

Anything you say, or indeed a refusal to deny, could be construed as tipping off.   If a client asks ytou straight out, "am I being investigated" there is no way that you can answer without effectively telling him. If you say "I cant comment" he could assume that quite rightly to mean yes, go home and destroy his records, and maybe later tell the police he destroyed them because he found out he wasw under investigation by talking to you. Next thing you know, plod is paying you a visit.  How exactly can you thenm prove that you did not actually tip him off?  Would you even recall exacty what you had said?  More to the point - could you prove it?

Just like the "should have suspected" test for money laudering reports, its vague and ridiculous.

 

transcript of telephone conversation

The Black Knight | | Permalink

C_D

No doubt there will be a transcript of the telephone conversation, or they have been listening in anyway perhaps thats your proof, i.e deny it, until they produce the evidence that proves your innocence ?

 

Thanks David that is a bit clearer in my mind now and I have some words I can memorise for the hopefuly unlikely event,

who would be an accountant ?

I advise everyone to do something more interesting and less risky.

b.clarke's picture

OK, let's get specific again

b.clarke | | Permalink

I stress this is a theoretical example!

It is 9am, and I am opening the post. Oh no, it's a Production Order, for the books and records of client Mr X! It takes me 5 minutes to read it all (OK, say I'm a fast reader and cool under pressure.)

My training kicks in, and I think

 i) I mustn't tip off Mr X, and

 ii) My first call needs to be to my lawyer (just in case ...)

But we've already had the records for a while, and before I can lift the phone to my lawyer, it rings - Mr X on the line: "Can I please have my books and records back?" What can I say which doesn't involved a lie, or at least some obfuscation? The easiest option is maybe to say "We'll get them in the post to you tonight." That at least buys a bit of time.

I think an early question to my lawyer would be "At what point can we get clearance from the police to tell the client what has happened to his records?" I am familiar with the procedure for getting fast-track clearance from SOCA for going ahead with a potentially money-laundering transaction, in circumstances where not going ahead would tip the client off, but is there a corresponding procedure for production orders?

Incidentally, I wonder if Mr Doshi is a qualified accountant? His ex-partner Mr Matterson was but I have a feeling he himself wasn't.

 

 

cymraeg_draig's picture

Producing tapes? You're having a laugh.

cymraeg_draig | | Permalink

C_D   No doubt there will be a transcript of the telephone conversation, or they have been listening in anyway perhaps thats your proof, i.e deny it, until they produce the evidence that proves your innocence ?

 

Posted by kalden on Tue, 15/02/2011 - 16:57

 

You've obviously never tried to obtain production of tapes. This is why we record every conversation with HMRC.

HMRC state they record calls, yet, three times we have obtained court orders to obtain tapes from HMRC, and three times the particular tapes have "gone missing".  If they prove HMRC's case - they will have them.  If they would disprove HMRC's case - they will be "accidently damaged", or "lost", or some similar excuse.  And the police are well known for "losing" inconvenient tapes also. They know that in the absence of tapes most courts will take their word over that of a member of the public.

Rule one is never, ever, under any circumstances, trust anyone working for "the state", and always double check everything they produce in "evidence". I have found some staggering discrepancies in police & tax office records and statements.

Indeed I have spent most of today preparing papers regarding a tax inspector who has falsified records, and procured the physical assault of a taxpayer, and conducted a course of conduct amounting to harassment.  Serious stuff.

 

What's the fuss???

alistair_king | | Permalink

What is the fuss about? If you saw an old lady being mugged in the street would you walk by because it was inconvenient and unpleasant to do your bit to uphold the law?

Its interesting you should ask this question. I remember a case a couple of years ago where a man walking down the street heard a disturbance down an alleyway as passed, and saw a woman being raped. He intervened to stop the rape and in the ensuing struggle both the rapist and the rescuer suffered some minor bruising. He held the rapist there until police arrived (about 20 minutes).

Now common sense would tell you the man was a hero to be lauded.

Instead, despite the woman's protestations, and confirmation of his story in eyewitness accounts he was arrested, and prosecuted for assaulting the rapist. The rescuer and the rapist were tried in separate courts. If I remember rightly the rescuer got a heavier sentence.

In court when he asked what he should have done instead of stopping the rape, the answer was that he should have called the police then walked away, on down the street.

unfortunately

The Black Knight | | Permalink

This is the kind of society they are trying to create,

I would not bother with calling the police ,

they will only turn up far to late to do anything, record the crime,

with the result that your house insurance will go up because you now live in a high crime area.

Clarke example query

The Black Knight | | Permalink

I would be very tempted to phone the police and get them to sort out their own muddle, perhaps on the basis that I was going home to have a nervous breakdown. Parcel up the records and refuse to take any more calls.

I think at that stage it really is out of your hands and what will be will be.

Unsuitable comment removed

Trev | | Permalink

 

One of our members posted a follow-up comment on this thread drawing on their personal experiences with Mr Doshi and including some not too well veiled hints of retribution.

As a result we have been forced to remove the comment and advise the specific member and others that this is not a suitable forum for posting allegations of dishonesty or professional/criminal misconduct. Aside from the strict nature of the UK's libel laws, comments relating to legal proceedings, which raises a risk of contempt of court.

We can understand why cases like this might inflame passions, but please remember this is a site for professional accountants and abide by our community rules.

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