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Directors jailed for £500,000 tax fraud

printer Mail

Two company directors who ‘lied’ about cash hidden in offshore bank accounts have been jailed for tax evasion and fraud, in the first prosecution tied to HMRC’s ‘offshore disclosure facility’.

HMRC took the opportunity to point out in a press release that its disclosure ‘campaigns’ are not amnesties. Roderick Smith of Wigan and Stephen Howarth, from Hyde, Cheshire, both aged 44, ran Goldlogic Control Systems Ltd in Manchester. The company offered computer technology expertise to the car trade, with many customers based in Germany, HMRC said.

‘But the pair did not registered their true level of sales with HMRC and instead put their profits in bank accounts in the Isle of Man. Alerted by the German tax authorities, HMRC investigators discovered that, over a six-year period, the men evaded around £500,000 in UK income tax.’

Smith disclosed only one offshore account, in the Isle of Man, when he was given the chance to ‘come clean’ through HMRC’s offshore disclosure facility (ODF). ‘He failed to mention 11 other accounts,’ HMRC said.

Howarth did not register for the ODF and failed to disclose any of his accounts.

Smith was jailed for 15 months and Howarth for 12 months. Confiscation orders were issued under proceeds of crime legislation in respect of Smith for £300,000 and Howarth for £200,000, HMRC said.

‘They must pay within 24 months or they will be jailed for a further 15 and 12 months respectively. Both men must pay £5,000 court costs. Smith has already paid £40,000 under the ODF scheme.’

HMRC said it continues to investigate the tax affairs of ‘thousands’ of individuals who chose not to come forward and declare offshore assets and accounts during the ODF and the subsequent new disclosure opportunity (NDO) in 2009.

‘Over 18,500 investigations related to these two campaigns have already been completed,’ it said.

‘Some £547m has been raised by HMRC from voluntary disclosures, and almost £140m from follow-up activity, including 20,000 completed investigations.

‘HMRC campaigns launched so far have targeted offshore investments, medical professionals, plumbers, VAT defaulters, coaches and tutors, electricians, online traders and higher rate taxpayers with outstanding tax returns. There are also 13 criminal investigations underway, with five convictions already secured.’