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HMRC failed to prosecute tycoon over tax evasion

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Media captionHMRC has failed to prosecute a wealthy tycoon who did not pay tax for 24 years as Richard Bilton reports

Tax inspectors failed to prosecute a wealthy tax cheat who did not submit returns or pay any tax for 24 years, documents seen by BBC Panorama show.

HM Revenue and Customs had concluded that Paul Bloomfield, a property investor involved in the redevelopment of Wembley Stadium, was a UK resident and liable for 20 years' tax.

Mr Bloomfield was on a list of HSBC clients with secret Swiss accounts.

HMRC said it would not comment on an individual taxpayer.

'Money box'

Mr Bloomfield enjoyed luxury homes, a boat, helicopter and private jet. His personal fortune was estimated at £60m in 2006 but when the taxman finally caught up with him five years later Mr Bloomfield was not prosecuted.

His is the most extreme case of tax evasion to emerge following the HSBC scandal and is likely to lead to further questions about HMRC's treatment of wealthy tax cheats.

The latest Panorama revelations came from the minutes of two meetings between Mr Bloomfield and HMRC investigators in 2011.

Mr Bloomfield told HMRC that, despite his lavish lifestyle, he did not own any property or have any income.

The notes of the meeting say: "Bloomfield advised that he has never paid a bill and never received a bill and when he needed money it was sent to him."

"When pressed, Bloomfield confirmed that his living expenses are paid from wherever there is money. In his words there is a box somewhere which contains money and he arranges for the bills to be paid."

Mr Bloomfield claimed an offshore company paid his rent and that another company paid for "the use of a Boeing 757, the use of a boat and a helicopter".

Some of the cash came from a Gibraltarian law firm, Marrache and Co, which closed in 2010 after the three brothers who ran the firm were arrested. Benjamin, Isaac and Solomon Marrache were jailed for fraud last year.

HSBC's Swiss accounts in numbers

106,000

clients with Swiss bank accounts

203

countries involved

  • $118bn total assets held in Swiss accounts

  • 11,235 clients from Switzerland held $31.2bn

  • 9,187 clients from France held $12.5bn

  • 7,000 clients from UK held $21.7bn

Reuters

Mr Bloomfield told HMRC that at one point he had a credit card from Marrache which allowed him to draw down £15,000 a month for living expenses.

He claimed he had lived overseas, as well as in the UK, but the tax investigator concluded that Mr Bloomfield was resident in the UK and was liable for tax for the past 20 years.

The documents show the taxman also missed a straightforward opportunity to prove Mr Bloomfield's dishonesty.

At one of the meetings, he told HMRC that "he had never had an account in an offshore bank". But the leaked HSBC files show Mr Bloomfield had an account at HSBC's Private Bank in Geneva in 1993.

The taxman already had the HSBC files at the time of Mr Bloomfield's interview - so it should have been easy to show that he was lying.

Trappings of wealth

Richard Brooks, a former tax inspector who now works for Private Eye, said Mr Bloomfield should have been prosecuted.

"If you haven't paid any tax and you're given a chance by the Revenue to come clean, especially when the amount is on this scale, and you don't, then you can expect to be prosecuted. That is what you would expect."

Mr Bloomfield lived at several upmarket addresses in Kensington and Knightsbridge. He left his last known address - a luxury apartment in Hyde Park Gate - without paying the rent.

In April 2014, a London court ordered Mr Bloomfield to pay a former business associate, Mohammad Ghadami, £110m in damages.

Mr Ghadami told Panorama that Mr Bloomfield enjoyed all the trappings of wealth.

"It wasn't true he had no income, he had a few cars, a few drivers, security, a very expensive wife, an aeroplane," said Mr Ghadami.

"One thing he had, it was money. And he had so much organisation - accountants and lawyers - to work for him and to hide the money for him."

Mr Bloomfield is now thought to be living in Spain, but he failed to respond despite repeated requests for a comment.

An HMRC spokesman said: "We don't talk about identifiable taxpayers. We take a wide range of factors into account when deciding the right course of action."

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