Alistair Webster KC and Simon Gurney, instructed by Freeths Solicitors, successful in £25m tax appeal.

The judgment has just been released by the Tax Tribunal in the case of Sintra Global and Malde v HMRC, in which the appellants, represented by Alistair and Simon, were appealing against VAT and duty assessments and personal liability notices totalling over £25m.  The case, heard over three months in the Tribunal in London, resulted with all of the appeals being allowed.  Alistair and Simon were instructed by Freeths, with SKS as the specialist tax advisers.

Alistair comments: “ This was a highly complex case, involving multiple issues of tax law, the laws of evidence, and mutual assistance issues.  Simon and I had been involved in the case for over two years, with extensive disclosure issues and case management issues to deal with It was very much a team effort.  Simon was, as ever, assiduous and insightful in his preparation and the team at Freeths, led by Simon Ellis and co-ordinated by Natalia Aguilar, ably supported by Amy Platt, demonstrated the value of having a team with experience and expertise in this type of case.  When you have invested so much effort and energy into a case, it is deeply satisfying to get a positive result.  It is worth quoting part of the final paragraph Tribunal’s judgement:

“Finally, we would adopt the following observation of Mr Webster and Mr Gurney from their closing written submissions on behalf the appellants that:
“… there can be no criticism of the fact that the Respondents’ decided to
investigate Mr Malde, given his role in the formation of the offshore entities and their bank accounts. They generated suspicion, and that suspicion was amplified by Mr Malde’s reluctance to volunteer information (born, as it was, out of distrust of HMRC resulting from previous problems with them). The problem is that much of the above demonstrates – and clearly demonstrates, in our submission – that suspicion generated a fixed view as to the involvement of Mr Malde and a determination to make him pay which blinded the officers to the defects in their analysis. A fixed view was arrived at, despite the difficulties with the evidence, and has been persisted with from relatively early in the investigation.”

Please find Judgment here.