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New technology could be making life much easier for those fighting tax evasion in the UK and elsewhe

07/01/15

Defence company BAE systems is diversifying from conventional weapons and defence to a very different battle - tax evasion.

The battle against individuals and companies that seek to avoid their legal responsibilities has been stepped up in Britain and elsewhere amid growing concern that governments are losing much-needed revenue, an issue that has been intensified by the strain on public finances in many countries.

BAE has devised software called NetReveal, which has been successfully trialled in Slovakia. This has led to widespread interest from other central european governments, all of whom are keen to avoid losing VAT receipts from so-called carousel fraud, the Financial Times reports.

Speaking to the news provider, senior director and general manager at NetReveal George Robbins said: "Digital defence is the new frontier. It is a reality now.

"For people like ourselves with a technology and defence background it is a tremendous opportunity."

The system has worked well in Slovakia, where the first seven months of usage helped it track down tax fraud and thus recoup €500 million (£392 million) that would otherwise have been lost.

"What it is particularly adept at is pulling out organised groups. Tax fraud, at scale, is normally executed by organised criminals or gangs that treat this as a business," added Mr Robbins, who noted that over 30 countries now use NetReveal technology in some fashion - a customer base he believes will double in size over the next two years.

By using ever more sophisticated technology to combat the tax fraudsters, those seeking tax jobs in the UK or Ireland, not least in the respective treasuries of the two countries, could find their roles develop in a new way.

Indeed, the UK tax authorities are already customers of the system, but Britain may be affected further by its more widespread use as it could mean multinationals trying to prevent tax getting into the hands of the UK Treasury are less able to move money around in other countries if those other jurisdictions are also tracking transactions using NetReveal.

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