Wealthy businessman handed two year prison sentence over intentional tax fraud

A wealthy UK businessman who intentionally committed tax fraud has been handed a two year prison sentence following a long-running tax investigation.

Peter Duffield, 62, ran a lucrative clay pigeon shooting club in Dartford and a road haulage company in Essex, but failed to declare tax on any of his earnings between 2007 and 2014, an HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) investigation revealed.

According to reports, the millionaire entrepreneur had appointed an accountant to keep detailed financial records for both of his businesses – but these records were never seen by HMRC.

This is because Mr Duffield did not submit a single self-assessment tax return in seven years – effectively failing to declare his income from either of his businesses, or from the sale of three private properties.

The fraudster went against the advice of his bookkeeper and failed to sign or post any of the tax returns prepared on his behalf.

This came despite a previous warning from HMRC which had ordered him under civil legislation to keep his tax affairs in order.

Following an arrest at his home, Mr Duffield was handed a four year sentence on 13 March 2017 and ordered to serve two years in prison and two on license.

Commenting on the case, Paul Barton, assistant director at HMRC’s fraud investigation service, said: “Duffield could have avoided jail, and was given every opportunity to get his tax affairs in order.

“However, despite warnings and advice from professionals, Duffield showed a blatant disregard for the tax system and funded a lavish lifestyle at taxpayers’ expense”.

Dr Anjulika Salhan, a director and tax investigation specialist with Salhan Accountants commented: “HMRC has a dedicated criminal investigation unit with far reaching powers. As this case demonstrates, it takes a particularly dim view of individuals who intentionally set out to commit tax fraud.

“Whilst there are some individuals who will deliberately plot to defraud HMRC, equally as many business owners unwittingly fall foul of the tax man’s rules and find themselves under the spotlight of an investigation.

“If expert tax investigation advice is not sought urgently a hefty fine or – worse still – prosecution through the criminal courts could result.

“We have represented a number of individuals who, for a variety of reasons, have found themselves in breach of HMRC regulations. As with all HMRC matters, tax investigations need to be dealt with as a matter of urgency.”

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.

Our experience, professional reputation, forensic attention to detail and negotiating skills mean we are well-placed to achieve positive outcomes.