HMRC smokes out tax fraudsters

Two separate VAT fraud incidents, involving huge quantities of illegal cigarettes, have resulted in fraudsters being jailed for their crimes.

In the first case, a building labourer was discovered to have nearly two million illicit cigarettes in a storage unit.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) taxation investigators were alerted to the fraud, after police officers were called out to a suspected break in at the lock-up and discovered the huge stash of contraband goods.

Aleksandrs Afonkins, from London, was caught red-handed when he was found inside the storage unit in Bootle, Merseyside. HMRC tax fraud officers attended and confirmed that the haul of cigarettes was worth £529,885.57 in lost duty and taxes. Cash amounting to £2,390 was also seized from Afonkins’ pocket.

He was found guilty of tax fraud, as well as possession of criminal property and was jailed for two and a half years.

In a second recent case a lorry driver, who was caught smuggling millions of cigarettes into the UK, was jailed for 14 months.

HMRC tax investigation officers stopped Dublin lorry driver, James O’Reilly, as he arrived in Holyhead by ferry.

His trailer was searched, which revealed 3.53 million illicit cigarettes, worth an estimated £953,000 in lost duty and taxes. He was sentenced to 14 months in prison for his crimes.

Dr Anjulika Salhan, a Director and tax investigation specialist with Salhan Accountants commented: “If deliberate fraud is suspected, HMRC’s taxation investigators will not hesitate to prosecute.

“Although only a minority of individuals intentionally set out to defraud HMRC, there are many people who find that they have unwittingly broken HMRC’s tax rules and are shocked to discover that they are under the spotlight of a tax investigation.

“At Salhan Accountants, we work extremely hard for clients subjected to a taxation investigation. We not only clarify the issues and the process, but come up with solutions too.”

For more information about our taxation investigation services, please contact us.