Press Room

5 Mar 2024

Andrew Parkes comments on Entain’s £615 million HMRC and CPS agreement

National Technical Director, Andrew Parkes, comments on Entain’s £615 million deferred prosecution agreement with HMRC and the CPS.

Andrew’s comments were published in Financial Accountant, 27 February 2024. 

Andrew explained why Entain the subject of an HMRC investigation, commenting: “HMRC will not say why it investigates a company, but it looks as if it asked Entain for some information to help them investigate completely different businesses. Then, when they looked at the information supplied by Entain, HMRC found that anti-bribery laws had been broken and began to investigate the Group.”

He detailed what the investigation revealed, saying: “The full facts are being withheld at the moment as there may be further trials, but the inference is that Entain failed to stop bribery that was designed to assist its business in Turkey.”

Andrew went on to discuss why HMRC agreed to a settlement: “HMRC always wants the money. It generally prosecutes to make a point or because the offence is too large not too. Here, it agreed to a settlement as a trial could have brought the business down and cost a lot of people their jobs, plus Entain had been a model penitent, changing its compliance procedures and helping HMRC as much as it could. The best result for the UK was then that Entain paid a financial penalty. This was £465mn, plus the £120mn profits it made from the dodgy transactions, £10mn costs and a charitable donation of £20mn, to make a total of £615mn.”

He further noted the ways in which Entain has responded to the settlement, stating: “We don’t know what they had previously but the Group now has a code of conduct, committees overseeing the areas where the bribery occurred, senior staff in roles overseeing the activities that could lead to bribery and training for staff to help them understand what they need to do to avoid bribery and what they must do if they come across it.”

Providing his analysis on the lessons this case holds for accountants, he said: “The case shows that HMRC obtains its information from many sources and even if you are not under enquiry, they can still find out about your wrong-doing. As ever the best way to avoid this problem is simply not to get involved in any act that could be considered to be bribery. This may be difficult if working overseas, but there are specialists who can help you, and it is better to have spoken to them before you start to work in overseas markets. If you do suspect bribery has occurred, come clean as soon as possible, as self-reporting companies get much better treatment than ones who are caught. Entain got away relatively lightly and it’s unlikely that another business would receive the same punishment.”

Andrew Parkes

Andrew is a highly experienced international tax specialist who worked at a senior level in HMRC’s international teams for over 10 years. He has a wealth of experience and technical knowledge.

Email: Andrew Parkes