Updated January 2020: First major global operation
The Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement (J5) is a global joint operational group, formed in mid-2018 to combat transnational tax crime. The J5 is comprised of tax enforcement authorities from Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States. These authorities work together to gather information, share intelligence, conduct operations and build the capacity of tax crime enforcement officials.
Who are the members of the J5?
The J5 comprises the:
- Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) and Australian Taxation Office (ATO)
- Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)
- Fiscale Inlichtingen- en Opsporingsdienst (FIOD)
- HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), and
- Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI)
What does the J5 do?
The J5 was formed in response to a call to action from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) for countries to do more to tackle the enablers of tax crime. The J5:
- Works together to investigate those who enable transnational tax crime and money laundering and those who benefit from it
- Collaborates internationally to reduce the growing threat to tax administrations posed by cryptocurrencies and cybercrime and to make the most of data and technology
- Develops shared strategies to gather information and intelligence
- Drives strategies and procedures to conduct joint investigations
Why is Australia participating in the J5?
At their first meeting in June 2018, the J5 brought together leading experts in tax and other financial crimes from each of the five member countries.
Will Day, Deputy Commissioner, Australian Taxation Office, said:
“Recognising that tax crime crosses international borders, by participating in the J5, the ATO and ACIC can work with like-minded international tax administrations and law enforcement agency partners to build on our domestic activity and develop strategies to disrupt crime and better position Australia against emerging threats.”
Col Blanch, Executive Director Intelligence Operations, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission said:
“Financial crime occurs on a global scale with proceeds of crime transferred between jurisdictions. This is why we are committed to working with our domestic and international partners to proactively target offshore service providers and cybercriminals who specialise in targeting the financial sector.”
One year in: Is the J5 making a difference?
To mark the one year anniversary of the J5, leaders of the group recently met in Washington, DC to announce the results from its first year.
Since the formation of the group, the agencies have cooperated on cases covering crimes from money laundering and the smuggling of illicit commodities to personal tax frauds and evasion. There has been a clear focus on shared areas of concern and cross-national tax crime threats including cyber-crime and crypto-currency as well as enablers of global tax evasion.
Key successes from the first year include:
- Involvement in more than 50 investigations concerning sophisticated international enablers of tax evasion.
- Conducted hundreds of data exchanges between J5 partner agencies, exchanging more data than in the previous 10 years combined.
- Put a high profile online mixer for cryptocurrencies out of operation.
- Developed innovative platforms such as FCInet which enable partner countries to share information in a more organised manner.
- Hosted a cyber training event for law enforcement partners from approximately 20 countries, addressing emerging areas associated with cybercrime such as virtual currency, blockchain and the dark web.
“I’m pleased with the progress the J5 has made on several significant joint investigations since its establishment last year,” said Will Day, Deputy Commissioner, ATO. “The collective intelligence available through the J5 is instrumental in enabling us to tackle serious and organised financial crime threats located in both Australia and offshore.”
First major global operation
In January 2020, the J5 coordinated a multi-country day of action to tackle international tax evasion across the U.K., U.S., Canada, Australia and the Netherlands.
The action occurred as part of a series of global investigations into a Central American financial institution believed to be facilitating international money laundering and tax evasion.
The operation involved the use of search warrants, interviews and subpoenas to gather evidence and intelligence, and it is expected that further legal action will arise in each country as a result.
The ATO, supported by the ACIC, has already commenced investigations into Australian-based clients of this institution who are suspected to have undeclared income.
“Never before have criminals been at such risk of being detected as they are now. Our increased collaboration, data analytics and intelligence sharing mean there is no place worldwide you can hide your money to avoid contributing your obligations,” said ATO Deputy Commissioner and Australia’s J5 Chief, Will Day.
This operation is a perfect example of the power of effective international cooperation. The investigation started based on information obtained by the Netherlands, and now tax criminals around the world are being brought to justice through the sharing of information and collaboration between the J5 members.