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Couple jailed and fined £4m for offshore tax dodge

A husband and wife business team from Co Tyrone, who siphoned off nearly £4m through false accounting to avoid paying taxes, have been jailed for six years, and ordered to pay almost £4 million in a confiscation order.

Patrick Gerard Small, 56, and Mary Elizabeth Small, 50, trading as Greystone Builders Merchants in Dungannon used undeclared offshore bank accounts in the Isle of Man and money laundered through property developments to dodge their taxes.

The pair submitted falsified trading accounts as well as personal tax and VAT returns to HM Revenue & Customs in a deliberate attempt to suppress the extent of their business profits.

Using their knowledge of the banking system the Smalls attempted to launder the profits from their criminal activities within Northern Ireland and beyond.

The Smalls built 23 houses in Northern Ireland, which remained empty, as well buying high value antiques and jewellery.

During a search of the Smalls main property HMRC officers recovered over £492,000 from safes including £447,000 from one safe alone, cash that had not been declared as income.

An HMRC spokeswoman says: “The Smalls were stealing taxpayers’ money over many years and clearly had no issue with enjoying the benefits of our public services whilst not contributing towards them.

“Even £2m stashed in offshore accounts didn’t deter them from claiming tax credits.

“Income tax and VAT fraud are not victimless fiddles and the days are long gone when hiding assets off-shore was seen as a safe bet for evading UK taxes. Anyone deliberately setting out to cheat the system by not paying the right amount of tax is taking a huge risk, as we will pursue and bring them to justice.”


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There are 8 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. The couple will certainly “enjoy the benefits” of our public services from now on, but there’ll be little or no opportunity for them to make a significant financial contribution towards these public services where they’re going.

    Just tell me again. How much does it cost per week to keep an individual locked up in prison?

  2. Not before time. My guess is that a few IFA’s Accountants and Solicitors will soon know what it felt like to be an MP required to justify expense claims. If this is what a couple of DIY’s managed to do just imagine what the professionals have been up to.

  3. John you seem to miss the point of the article. The couple have been jailed for tax evasion, something no legitimate IFA, solicitor or accountant would be involved in.
    Tax evasion is very different from tax planning which is entirely legal and morally correct.

  4. The maximum tax and Vat on £4 million would have been around £2 million so this couple have lost twice over – they’ve lost a legitmate £2 million net earnings and have lost the pleasure of each others company for about 3 years. Still, they’ll be able to escape to their offshore stashes in 3 years time.

  5. Aaaaah – ‘legal’ tax planning Scott. Like fraudulantly saying you earn 50K to get a mortgage and then only putting 30K through for tax and the mortgage broker turning a blind eye?

  6. Scott, Tax Planning may soon be illegal if HMRC’s draft legislation goes through in it’s reported current form.

  7. What a strange world we live in, prison for theft and a caution for carrying a knife, and suspended sentances for causing bodily harm. Clearly pound notes are more valuable than people in the eyes of the law.

  8. There is no better place than jail for these two scoundrels because not only did they cheat the tax man, but tramped every common man in the country he could, into the ground. He really is a nasty piece of work; and there are still charges to be brought against him!

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