HMRC reveals challenge of offshore trusts

Monies stored in an offshore trust represent the most challenging structure for HM Revenue & Customs officers focusing on offshore tax evasion.

That is according to Greg Skyte, the head of HMRC's newly created Offshore Co-ordination Unit (OCU), which is operating from Birmingham.

HMRC set up the Unit in a bid to recoup money from undeclared offshore funds spread across the world.

But despite the HMRC investing a significant sum in this new pursuit, Mr Skyte has said, in an interview with the BBC, that the unit faces some significant challenges in uncovering funds.

"A lot of it [the money] is put through trust structures, there are company structures involved, and numerous individuals who are linked together and it's not always straightforward," he said.

Mr Skyte admitted that ownership was also often difficult to trace, with the government required to establish liability in any case.

He also admitted that though letters had been sent to those with suspected offshore funds, these individuals would not yet be summoned by HMRC.

"It just isn't practical to issue letters inviting each and every one of those to come in," he said.

"We don't have the resource, short term, to take forward enquiries on such a scale. But we will ask questions on a significant number of those cases."