Scott Coupland, 48, from Leadenflower Road, Crieff, director of W D R Coupland (Produce) Limited, submitted a string of false VAT returns to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) between March 2011 and November 2012. When caught, Coupland said that his actions were driven by a downturn in business, and that he was trying to broker a business deal in Nigeria.
By claiming his overheads were more than 20 times higher than they really were, Coupland received VAT repayments much greater than he was due. Investigators found Coupland was using the VAT repayments not only to keep his ailing business afloat, but also to cover the costs of private school fees and his mortgage.
Cheryl Burr, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:
“The VAT repayment system exists to support legitimate businesses, not a as bank to allow criminals access to ready cash. Coupland showed little regard to the honest taxpayers he was stealing from to fund his lifestyle and failing business.
“Our efforts are helping to create a level playing field for honest businesses to operate fairly. We have put a stop to this tax fraud, but the public’s help in fighting tax evasion is vital, and suspicious behaviour can be reported at gov.uk or by calling 0800 59 5000.”