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Tax-dodging couple get six-year jail terms

£4m is syphoned off through false accounting

A husband and wife business team from County Tyrone, Northern Ireland who syphoned off nearly £4m through false accounting to avoid paying taxes, have been jailed for six years and ordered to pay almost £4m 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 paying 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.

The Smalls attempted to launder the profits from their criminal activities within Northern Ireland and beyond.

They 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 while not contributing towards them. Even £2m stashed in offshore accounts did not deter them from claiming tax credits.

“Income tax and VAT fraud are not victimless fiddles and the days are long gone when hiding assets offshore 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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