Two conmen attempted to defraud HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) out of more than £60 million in tax after launching a fake investment scheme, it has been revealed.

The criminal case is just one of many included in the tax man’s list of most egregious instances of tax avoidance in 2019.

The list, which includes international criminal gangs, large money laundering seizures and fake investment schemes, reveals that more than 600 individuals were convicted for tax crimes in the last 12 months, clawing back around £5 billion for victims and the public purse.

According to the report, a fake investment scheme which claimed to invest in HIV research and conservation was 2019’s highest value case. According to HMRC, two fraudsters attempted to steal £60 million by enticing people to invest in the scheme which advertised the promise of evading tax.

The pair, who created and submitted false scientific reports to HMRC to support their claims, were jailed for a total of 14 and a half years.

A multimillion-pound illicit alcohol scam, a £17 million tax fugitive and an illegal motor fuel ring also feature highly in the list.

Commenting on the report, Simon York, Director of the Fraud Investigation Service, said: “The majority of people pay their taxes but there remains a hard core who have zero interest in playing by the rules.

“These prosecutions clearly show that we’ll relentlessly pursue those criminals who would try and cheat honest taxpayers by stealing money destined for vital public services.

“It means we’re increasingly taking on ever more complex frauds and well-resourced opponents, including tackling organised criminals who would otherwise undermine our economy and harm our communities.”

Click here to find HMRC’s biggest criminal cases of the year.

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