The gang were this week found guilty at Southwark Crown Court of conspiracy to cheat the public revenue. They used insider knowledge provided by former tax office worker Susanne Green, 38, from Moray, Scotland, to fraudulently claim millions in VAT repayments. She was described by the judge as the ‘linchpin’ of the fraud.
A three year investigation uncovered a highly organised fraud and found former HMRC employee Green had used her position working in the Electronic Payments Team in Southend, Essex, to identify unallocated VAT payments and fraudulently pay them elsewhere.
Green used company details provided by accountants Michael Perry 46, from Essex and Daniel Weidner, 47, from Hampshire to fraudulently misallocate VAT payments to specified businesses.
The investigation found that Arthur Lee, 55 from Essex, who was in relationship with Green, received details of unallocated payments from her and passed them to unqualified accountants Perry and Weidner.
They then used their clients’ companies to claim the VAT payments for themselves. Two men, along with Lee - Londoner Michael Myatt, 56 and Stephen Maish, 54, a semi-professional darts player from Wigan, Lancashire, - allowed their identities and companies to be used as part of the fraud.
The investigation came to light when a legitimate taxpayer of an unallocated payment queried why their payment to HMRC had not credited its VAT account. During the course of the enquiry a vigilant HMRC employee noticed that this payment had been misallocated and that a further three payments had also been misallocated to the same incorrect trader. In all four instances the payments had been handled by Susanne Green.
Joff Parsons, Assistant Director, Internal Governance Criminal Investigations, Fraud Investigation Services, HMRC, said:
“Green, Lee, Perry and Weidner were at the forefront of a highly sophisticated fraud. As an HMRC employee Green was trusted with the sensitive information she was dealing with on a daily basis, but she abused her position and was pivotal to the theft. The defendants used a network of front companies to receive the fraudulent payments and to launder the proceeds.
“Had HMRC not stopped them, they could have attempted to steal millions more in a deliberate attack on the public purse but they are now facing over 24 years in jail as a result of their fraud. HMRC will not tolerate corruption at any level and will pursue those responsible and bring them before the courts.”
Sentencing Green, Her Honour Judge Joanna Korner said Green had demonstrated a “colossal breach of trust”.
“It was a fraud that was well planned, sophisticated and difficult to detect. Those employed by government agencies, particularly those concerned with revenue collection, have a high degree of trust placed in them. Green joined this conspiracy not through need but through greed.”
Green had used the proceeds of her ill-gotten gains to pay for a Toyota Rav4 car and for expensive holidays, including one to Las Vegas. Confiscation proceedings to recover the gang’s criminal profits are ongoing.