Millionaire property developer fined for tax evasion



A property developer, who closed a secret Swiss bank account in an attempt to avoid detection, has pleaded guilty and been ordered to pay fines and compensation totalling £830,000, plus costs at Wood Green Crown Court.

Michael Shanly previously failed to disclose a Swiss offshore account to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), during a civil enquiry where he was found to owe HMRC around £1.5m. This was discovered when information about UK taxpayers with HSBC bank accounts in Geneva was handed over to HMRC. Checks were then made to establish whether these account holders had declared and paid what they owed.

Property millionaire Shanly, who features on the Sunday Times Rich List, opened the account with his and his mother’s money. When his mother died, he later closed the account, and transferred all the money – evading £430,000 in Inheritance tax.

David Gauke, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, said: 

“Most hard-working taxpayers are rightly angry that a small minority think that they are above the tax rules the rest of the country plays by. This case proves that the Government will track down and take action against those who try to get out of paying the tax they owe. The message is clear: even if you try to hide money abroad, HMRC will find you.”

Chris Martin, Assistant Director, HMRC Criminal Investigation said: 

“Mr Shanly – like others – took advantage of his offshore account to hide money that was owed to the public purse. He thought it was out of reach of HMRC and hoped we would never find it. However we discovered it, and he will pay a heavy penalty.”

“HMRC are continually receiving information from various sources and working together with partner agencies here and abroad. Those attempting to hide offshore accounts must be aware that HMRC are closing in on offshore assets.”

This is the first case to come before a court using the data obtained by HMRC on UK citizens with HSBC bank accounts in Geneva. HMRC criminal investigators continue to review the information obtained and further prosecutions are likely.

In sentencing Recorder Rosamund Horwood-Smart QC said:

“In this court there are no rules just for the rich and no rules just for the poor… the tax system relies on voluntary and honest disclosure of tax affairs and it applies to all equally.”