I’ve done a bit of HMRC-bashing in recent months (here and here) so it’s only fair that I now mention a laudable news story that they issued at the end of 2018: their list of top ten prosecutions of 2018, which demonstrate their “relentless pursuit of tax criminals”. Some of these stories I picked up during the year, but some are new to me, and among my favourites we have:
- Hussain Asad Chohan, formerly of Birmingham, went on the run during his 2006 trial for smuggling 2.25 tonnes of illegal hand-rolling tobacco, worth £750,000 in evaded duty – he was given a five year prison sentence. He was also involved in a £185 million VAT fraud, and in December 2006 a court found that his lifestyle was funded by crime and ordered him to repay £28.6 million within three months. He did not, so seven years was added to his sentence. However (and here’s the bit I really like) his debt, plus interest totalling more than £24 million, remains and increases by more than £6,000 a day until paid. He was finally caught in Canada and extradited to the UK in June 2018 to serve his sentence and work out how to repay more than £53 million…
- David Hughes worked for the Inland Revenue in the 1980s before setting up as a tax consultant in Kent – and using his knowledge of the tax system to steal £6.9 million in taxes paid by clients and deducted from workers’ wages, through fraudulent payroll schemes. Hughes cleverly settled in Northern Cyprus, which does not have an extradition treaty with the UK – but less cleverly flew into Heathrow where he was arrested in January 2018. Hughes and his conspirators laundered the money through bank accounts belonging to companies they created in the UK, Belize and Gibraltar, and then onwards through the Channel Islands, the UAE, the USA, Turkey and various property transactions. In August 2018 Hughes was jailed for 9½ years for conspiracy to cheat the public revenue, 3½ years for false accounting and six years for money laundering.
- Laurel Goodman and her business partner Barry Solomons managed travelling male stripper troupe the Dream Idols. Between 2007 and 2013 the pair failed to declare income of more than £621,000, thereby evading £171,000 in income tax. An investigation by the Department for Work and Pensions revealed that Goodman had pocketed almost £5,500 in benefits, but the day before her trial in September 2016 she wrote her lawyer, saying: “I am going somewhere where I am safe and cannot be found.” This turned out to be Wells-next-the-Sea in Norfolk, where she was arrested in December 2017. Goodman and Solomons had both been sentenced in September 2016 to 28 months in prison; Goodman is now behind bars with an additional four months for going on the run.
But the top ten is not the full picture: according to the HMRC press release, their “fraud investigations have led to 671 people being convicted over the last 12 months for their part in tax crimes [and they have] charged another 919 people and taken on 746 new criminal investigations”. Go HMRC!