Ongoing CCO investigations

16 February 2023

HMRC has released updated statistics relating to its Corporate Criminal Offence (CCO) investigations. As at 1 January 2023 there were 9 live investigations and a further 26 under review, and this represents an increase over the numbers in HMRC’s previous release (May 2022). While no charging decisions had been made as at 1 January, CCO remains a client priority nevertheless, as we explain.

The CCO was introduced by the Criminal Finances Act 2017 and can catch an organisation that fails to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion. HMRC’s 2017 Guidance stressed the importance of keeping CCO processes and procedures under regular review, and with the release of the CCO statistics in May 2022 HMRC made the point that while investigations to date may not have identified evidence of deliberate facilitation, other tax and regulatory issues had been uncovered and were being pursued. By May 2022 69 CCO cases had been reviewed and as at 1 January 2023 the number had risen to 77, across a number of different business sectors. HMRC also indicated that results would be made public when it was "appropriate" to do so. Accordingly, robust CCO procedures continue to be treated as a priority matter notwithstanding the absence of any charging decisions so far.

In light of this a number of clients have refreshed their initial CCO risk assessments and revisited their internal CCO training materials and associated guidance. There has also been a move towards harmonising client policies which touch tax in some way, particularly in the wider financial crime context. In addition, we have seen a growing focus on procurement processes generally as clients look to enhance their supply chain procedures, with CCO continuing to arise as a due diligence checklist matter in the acquisition context. 

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