Three financial advisers have been jailed for their part in a VAT fraud amounting to almost £2m.
A total of eight people received jail sentences after setting up fictitious companies claiming to be trading in animal feed, children’s clothing and fruit and vegetables. They created business expenses associated with the non-existent companies to evade paying VAT to HM Revenue
The gang used the money they made from the fraud to invest in property portfolios to fund their lifestyles. Three self-employed financial adv- isers helped the gang members buy properties and in some cases helped to complete fake invoices.
The three financial advisers who received prison sentences are Gary Edgington, 55, from Cheshire, sentenced to four years, Peter Wood, 52, from Manchester sentenced to four years and eight months, Michael North, 70, from Stockport sentenced to 15 months.
HMRC assistant director criminal investigations in the North West Mike O’Grady says: “Those sentenced today include three self-employed financial advisers who opened bank accounts to facilitate the frauds, helped with the purchase of properties for gang members using the money obtained from the fraud and, in some circumstances, completed false invoices.
“They abused their posit- ions of trust to line their own pockets and those of their co-conspirators and the sentences handed out by the court reflect how seriously this crime is taken.
“VAT fraud is a serious crime which diverts vital income from the UK’s public services into the pockets of career criminals and HMRC will do everything in its power to put a stop to this.”
The total VAT fraud amounted to around £1.9m and those jailed now face confiscation hearings to recover monies and assets involved.