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Weekly Edition - Publication date:- 2017-15-07

-en Southport & Mersey Reporter

Local News Report  - Mobile Page


4 sentenced for VAT fraud Vehicles adapted for disabled

4 people, including a man from Kirkby, where sentenced on 14 July 2017, at Manchester Crown Court for conspiracy to evade over ₤900,000 in VAT.

In a complex operation led by Merseyside Police, part of which centred on an investigation in to Tax fraud, the disabled defendants abused an HMRC policy, which exempts them from paying VAT if the vehicle has undergone a substantial adaptation for their personal use.

The prosecution is thought to be 1 of the 1st of its kind in the country and follows a long term investigation by detectives from Merseyside Police and Prosecutors from the Serious Fraud Office, in Manchester.

Officers established that the defendants were part of a significant fraud whereby the vehicles bought under the Zero Rated VVAT Scheme were immediately sold on to non disabled people at a significant profit.

The enquiry found that more than 120 vehicles were involved, at a total cost of more than ₤5million.

The vehicles bought included:- Porsches, Range Rovers, Bentleys and Audis; all high specification, luxury vehicles.

Detective Chief Inspector John Webster from Merseyside Police said:- "By evading paying VAT, the scheme deprived the exchequer of much-needed money. It involved the transfer of millions of pounds through the defendants' personal bank accounts and those of associated businesses. As well as evading paying VAT, their crimes generated more than ₤370,000 once the cars had been sold on."

Ray Gordon, 57, from Kirkby, bought 52 cars, costing around ₤2,590,000, evading ₤458,000 VAT. Gordon was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Margaret Lunt, 68, from Chester, bought 19 cars, at a cost of around ₤714,000 evading ₤120,000 VAT. Lunt was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for 2 years.

Arthur Jackson, 62, from Sale, bought 12 cars whose total cost was around ₤769,000 evading ₤135,000 VAT. Jackson was sentenced to 8 months in prison suspended for 2 years.

Martin Burke, 51, from Poynton, Greater Manchester, bought 8 cars costing around ₤305,000 evading ₤52,000 VAT. Burke was sentenced to 6 months in prison suspended for 2 years.

DCI Webster added:- "These sentences send out a clear and unambiguous message that the courts will view Tax and VAT fraud as very serious crimes. Our investigations into the organised crime gang behind this fraud will continue. I'd like to congratulate my team for their hard work in disentangling what was a complicated case. We followed the evidence and have broken up what was a lucrative fraud."


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