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Church leaders and tax fugitives: HMRC's top 2018 cases

We share 10 of last year's most attention-grabbing tax convictions

With the festive season on the way out, it's time to remember that only three things in life are certain: death, taxes and the long arm of Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

In 2018, major tax dodgers came in all shapes and sizes, from a church leader to the head of a group of male strippers.

Financial secretary to the Treasury Mel Stride said: 'The range of cases in this year’s list demonstrates how HMRC will always tackle fraud and can prosecute anyone who steals from or endangers the public, from smugglers to potential arms dealers.'

We share 10 of last year's most attention-grabbing tax convictions.

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With the festive season on the way out, it's time to remember that only three things in life are certain: death, taxes and the long arm of Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

In 2018, major tax dodgers came in all shapes and sizes, from a church leader to the head of a group of male strippers.

Financial secretary to the Treasury Mel Stride said: 'The range of cases in this year’s list demonstrates how HMRC will always tackle fraud and can prosecute anyone who steals from or endangers the public, from smugglers to potential arms dealers.'

We share 10 of last year's most attention-grabbing tax convictions.

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10. Racing driver jailed for tax fraud

Hemel Hempstead company director and Lamborghini enthusiast Simon Atkinson was jailed for more than three years over a £450,000 scam.

Already under investigation by HMRC for money laundering offences, Atkinson was found to have falsified invoices by asking companies to book his personal motor racing expenses as business costs.

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9. Ferrari driving businessman jailed for £9.8m VAT fraud

Businessman Jason Butler was sentenced to nine years in prison in March for creating invoices to falsely claim he had purchased £60 million of personal data, costing the government £9.8 million in VAT.

The 46-year-old, formerly based in Leeds, tried to disguise the scam with a complex chain of companies around the world and used the proceeds to buy Ferraris, a speedboat and a large portfolio of properties.

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8. Luton Church leader jailed for Gift Aid fraud

In the same month, Luton church leader Teslim Johnson was jailed for four years after being found guilty of lying about charity donations to fraudulently claim £155,840 in Gift Aid.

In 2016, HMRC officers contacted donors listed on the charity’s records, finding most of the donations had not been made and many of the donors had never heard of the church.

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7. Male stripper boss jailed after year on the run 

Male stripping troupe head Laurel Goodman was jailed in April after spending more than a year on the run, after being sentenced to 28 months in prison in 2016 for tax and benefit fraud worth more than £100,000.

HMRC tracked the 57-year-old former co-manager of Dream Idols to a £1,600-a-month rented house in Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk, where she was was living under the alias of Chrissie Tatum, running a film-making business called Pet Superstars.

 

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6. Pensioner jailed for trafficking fighter jet parts to Iran

Retired company head Alexander George was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison in November for shipping military items to Iran in violation of Weapons of Mass Destruction controls.

The equipment included Russian MiG and US F4 Phantom parts bought from the United States and sent through companies George owned in Malaysia and Dubai.

Worried he was being investigated, he searched the internet to find out who was wanted by the FBI, CIA and Interpol for selling aircraft parts to Iran.

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5. Tax fugitives grounded over £1m VAT scam

Former Sandbanks resident Jamie Colwell, 51, and his father Brian, 76, were jailed in May after having been extradited from Spain, after the son fled to France in a light aircraft.

Sentenced to five years and two years and eight months in prison, respectively, they had claimed nearly £1 million in VAT on non-existent new-build houses.

 

 

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4. Former tax official jailed for £6.9m payroll fraud

Tax consultant and former Inland Revenue employee David Hughes, 52, was sentenced to nine-and-a-half years in prison in August for heading a conspiracy to steal £6.9 million in taxes paid by clients, deducted from workers’ wages through fraudulent payroll schemes.

Along with co-conspirator Aquil Ahmed, Hughes operated more than 10 companies in the UK, Belize and Gibraltar to carry out the fraud.

He was based in North Cyprus, which doesn't have an extradition treaty with the UK, but was arrested at Heathrow Airport in January 2018 when he arrived on a flight from Turkey.

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3. Tobacco smuggling gang gets 26 years 

An eight-strong tobacco smuggling gang was jailed for a total of more than 26 years in October.

Headed by ringleader Mohammad Zada, the gang was caught by HMRC with illegal tobacco products worth £713,037 in unpaid duty.

In their largest haul of the investigation, officers found 2,204,620 blackmarket cigarettes hidden among a shipment of fridge freezers on the back of a lorry in Middlesbrough.

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2. Tax and visa fraudsters jailed for 31 years

In November, a five-member organised crime group led by London law student Abul Kalam Muhammad Rezaul Karim, 42, was jailed for a total of more than 31 years for a tax and visa scam.

Setting up 79 bogus companies and creating fake documentation used by Bangladeshi nationals in fraudulent visa applications, the gang was found to have used the companies to attempt to fraudulently reclaim £13 million in tax repayments.

 

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1. Millionaire tax fugitive jailed for 12 years

Multi-millionaire tax fugitive Hussain Asad Chohan, formerly of Moseley, Birmingham, was jailed in June after more than 11 years on the run.

Caught in Canada, from where he was extradited, Chohan was found to owe more than £53 million in tax and was given a 12-year prison sentence.

 

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