Leaders of tax enforcement authorities from five countries, including the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and the Netherlands, have allied to create the Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement (or J5 for short), to collaborate in fighting international and transnational tax crimes and money laundering.
Membership of the J5 includes the heads of tax crime and senior officials from Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS CI), Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) in the U.K., the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) and Australian Taxation Office (ATO), the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), and the Dutch Fiscal Information and Investigation Service (FIOD).
Leaders of the group met Thursday in Montreal to formulate their plans. The J5 plans to work together to gather and share information and intelligence, as well as conduct operations and build capacity for tax crime enforcement officials. Areas of focus include cybercrime and cryptocurrency, data analytics, and enablers and facilitators of tax crimes. The alliance will concentrate on building international enforcement capacity, as well as enhancing operational capability by piloting new approaches and conducting joint operations, to bring perpetrators who enable and facilitate offshore tax crime to justice.
“We’re continuing the fight against international offshore tax evasion and money laundering,” said IRS CI chief Don Fort during a conference call with reporters Thursday. He and his colleagues are interested in sharing assets in investigations, using the criminal statutes available to them, although he acknowledged that the laws and privacy protections vary from country to country.
The group formed in response to a call to action from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development for countries to do more to tackle the enablers of tax crime. They plan to share their successes, new approaches and findings from their joint efforts with the larger tax enforcement community.
At their initial meeting this week in Montreal, the J5 assembled some of the leading experts in tax and other financial crimes from each of the five member countries. “The countries seated at the table are working together, and we are leaders at the OECD,” said Fort.
Together they are developing tactical plans and have identified some opportunities to pursue cyber criminals and enablers of transnational tax crime. “We spent a lot of time trying to map out what success means to us,” said Fort. They plan to share data, tools and expertise to develop training and skills in cybersecurity within the J5 and with other partners.
Simon York, director of the Fraud Investigation Service at HM Revenue & Customs in the U.K., has seen an evolution in the technologies used by cybercriminals, including cryptocurrency. “What’s changed is them using virtual currencies and the dark web,” he said.
Johanne Charbonneau, director general of the Criminal Investigations Directorate at the Canada Revenue Agency, sees the J5 as a “demonstration of our commitment to cooperation in the fight against international crime.”
The J5 plans to further the effort through the sharing of data and technology, conducting operational activity and taking advantage of collective best practices. Further updates on ongoing J5 initiatives are expected in late 2018.
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