Kent builder jailed for £800k VAT fraud
A Canterbury builder has been jailed for VAT fraud offences totalling over £800,000 following an investigation by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).
Wayne Morris Harrison (52) admitted submitting fraudulent VAT repayment claims to HMRC in respect of two building and development companies he directed – David Charles Homes Limited and Weybridge Homes Limited.
HMRC officers searching Harrison’s former home in Broadstairs found evidence of significant personal expenditure that included money transfers to Russia, golf club and gym membership, designer jewellery and a large newly-built kitchen and conservatory.
John Cooper, HMRC Assistant Director Criminal Investigation, said:
“HMRC is determined to crack down on tax fraud, and investigate criminals like Harrison who are intent on stealing from UK taxpayers.”
“Anyone with information about VAT fraud can contact the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000 or email: email@example.com .”
The court heard that between 2006 and 2009 Harrison fraudulently claimed VAT refunds totalling £812,250. These were claimed on the basis that both companies were involved in new build residential properties, which are zero rated for VAT purposes. This meant that any standard rated VAT costs incurred could be reclaimed. In fact, the only building work was to an unfinished property near Canterbury and extensive renovation of his home in Broadstairs, which he has since left. The other claims were made up to illegally receive VAT repayments.
Investigations into Harrison’s claims soon uncovered a web of deceit that included submitting fake invoices, and falsifying documents purporting to be from legitimate suppliers. He also reclaimed the VAT on bills he had not paid. It is thought that some of the money Harrison fraudulently obtained was used to purchase an apartment in Russia.
Upon sentencing, Mr Recorder Alex Milne QC said:
“Your offending does strike at the heart of the taxation system, and I sentence you on the basis of loss to the taxpayer of £812,250. Your companies were validly registered [for VAT], but you became dishonest making fraudulent VAT refund applications.”
Confiscation proceedings are in place to reclaim proceeds of the crime from Harrison.