HMRC reluctant to prosecute the rich HMRC has admitted that it allows the most powerful members of society to escape prosecution for financial crimes. Richard Las, the deputy director of HMRC in charge of organised crime, told an economic crime conference in Cambridge last week that the tax authorities accommodated celebrities’ concerns and settled debts privately to avoid the embarrassment of a public trial. He admitted that "criminal justice" was never a "default option" for HMRC. "We use it where it is necessary and it will have the greatest effect", he said. Prem Sikka, professor of accounting at Sheffield University, said: "This shows just how far removed the senior leadership of HMRC are from public opinion. This policy provides absolutely no deterrent to tax cheats."