Achieving Reduced Sentence in VAT Fraud

Achieving Reduced Sentence in VAT FraudWe were instructed to prepare an expert accounting report on behalf of a Defendant who, together with a number of others, was standing trial accused of involvement in a very substantial fraud against HMRC.

This was a fairly typical VAT case, often referred to as “Carousel” or “Missing Trader” fraud, and the Defendant was accused of having been a director of a mobile phone company that had claimed back large amounts of VAT (approximately £9 million) to which it was not entitled.

Our report focused on the fact that the Defendant had not been involved in the sale of mobile phones and he had traditionally concentrated his efforts on the sale of legitimate brown and white goods, such as TVs and electrical appliances.  We involved our computer forensics team and were able to show that in fact it was his co-director who had been involved in the mobile phone side of the business and who had derived the benefit from the fraud.  We were able to find the evidence that showed that all VAT returns had been prepared and signed off by the co-director.  In addition our detailed analysis of the Defendant’s many known bank accounts showed that he had received only modest income from the company and he did not appear to have benefited from the fraud.

Unfortunately the Defendant did not perform well under strong cross examination.  Nevertheless, although he was found guilty, the Judge accepted that it was likely that the co-director had derived the main benefit and the Defendant had not benefited to any great extent, as demonstrated in our report.  He received a sentence of only 2 years whereas had he pleaded guilty at the outset our legal team thought that a sentence of 5 years might well have been imposed.

Our instructing solicitors were quick to acknowledge our role in helping the Defendant in the way that we not only identified key evidence but also the way in which we set out our findings, which proved to be very user friendly and thus resulted in a much lower sentence than had been expected throughout the case.

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