Key challenges in proceedings and the proof of tax crimes – the law enforcement’s point of view

In this blog, our partner the Estonian Tax and Customs Board provides an example of key challenges met in the prosecution of tax crime for the law enforcement agency’s point of view.

During the PROTAX focus groups, we meet tax experts, tax authorities representatives, Law Enforcement Agencies, professionals of relevant industries to discuss and think collectively about how to counter tax crimes in Europe.

Challenges and issues are raised from different points of view in order collect the information and material that would allow the PROTAX partners to deliver toolkits for policy makers, tax authorities and, ultimately harmonise the treatment of tax crimes in Europe.

Some examples of key challenges

As for the tax crime proceedings and the proof of tax crimes, the lack of resources in dealing with large-scale tax-related criminal cases and providing evidence in an uninterrupted manner is a major problem.

The investigating authorities, the Prosecutor’s Office and Courts have a considerable lack of resources to deal with large tax-related criminal cases uninterruptedly. This is due to an uneven distribution of the resources.

The Code of Criminal Procedure allows the termination of criminal proceedings after a reasonable period of time. Regrettably, it has happened repeatedly connected to tax crimes, that the court terminated proceedings upon the request of the defence attorney on the grounds that the criminal case has been suspended for too long or the proceedings have been delayed and a reasonable period of time passed.

Unfortunately, the lack of resources also affects the Prosecutor’s Office and courts may favour settling cases by a settlement procedure. Which gives the accused a good position, in turn, to trade lighter punishment or to apply for the release of the seized assets. Unfortunately, such cases are not exceptional.

This problem can certainly be mitigated by prosecutors specializing in the proceedings of tax crimes.

Future appointments…

The Estonian PROTAX focus group was held in April 2019, tackling issues and challenges in countering tax crime.

At a second stage, the PROTAX partners will prepare a final report that will outline major findings of all focus group events. It will analyse the similarities and differences of tax crime treatment in various EU-jurisdictions, and will particularly highlight best enforcement practices across the EU.

For more information contact us.

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