Former ATT boss jailed for 8.5 years for fraud

Former Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT) president Andrew Meeson and his associate Peter Bradley have been jailed for eight-and-a-half years each for a £5m tax fraud.

Meeson and Bradley were found guilty of conspiring to cheat HMRC between 1 January 2006 and 30 April 2010 by claiming tax relief on fictitious pension contributions.

The pair received income tax repayments of £5m, claiming this was the refund due on £20m of contributions pension scheme members had made.

Following an investigation, the contributions were found by HMRC not to exist.

The scheme was administered by Tudor Capital Management ltd, of which they were directors.

In a statement to ATT members, the association called it a "very difficult and sad episode".

The then president wrote to members when the charges were laid against Andrew Meeson in November 2011 and some members questioned how he could have succeeded to the presidency when an HMRC investigation had begun into his firm.

"He had given assurances that the case was weak and would not proceed. When it was taken forward, he alerted the ATT Leadership Team and stepped down.  We have examined our governance procedures and made adjustments," the ATT said in a public statement.

Two other business partners, along with Meeson and Bradley, were charged with tax fraud in October 2011 and strongly denied the charges, pleading not guilty.

The men were arrested in 2010 following raids by HMRC officers on their homes and business premises in the West Midlands and Derby.

In January, the court heard how Meeson and Bradley, along with his wife, exploited HMRC’s relief at source system to profit from bogus tax relief claims for two pension schemes for the Moya group of payroll companies.

Steven Price, a trustee of the pension fund, pleaded guilty to obtaining documents by deception under the Theft Act 1968 and was given an 18-month sentence, suspended for two years. However, he must also pay a fine of £100,000 within six months or go to jail for two years.

In addition to his sentence, Meeson was disqualified from being a company director for six years.

HMRC assistant director of criminal investigation Simon De Kayne said the fraud was “blatant theft” from the UK economy.

Confiscation proceedings to recover the crime profits are now taking place.

In conjunction with HMRC executing the search warrants in 2010, the Pensions Regulator took action to suspend Tudor Capital Management Ltd from acting as trustees for pension trust schemes.

Comments
JAADAMS's picture

Doesnt put ATT in a good light - does it?    2 thanks

JAADAMS | | Permalink

I trust that the CIOT/ATT Standards Committe will consider their role.

Quote from ATT's website: 

The joint Professional Standards Committee of the Institute and the Association of Taxation Technicians contributes to the achievement of ATT’s objective of promoting and enforcing standards of professional conduct amongst those engaged in the provision of advice and services in relation to taxation and monitoring and supervising their compliance with money laundering legislation. 

...What was Andrew thinking of?

ATT(Fellow) member

ShirleyM's picture

No, it doesn't put any tax professional in a good light    3 thanks

ShirleyM | | Permalink

It seems more and more, that the people who should protect us, or set us a good example, are the biggest rip-off merchants in the UK!

Phew    2 thanks

girlofwight | | Permalink

8 1/2 years - thats a fair stretch, even with remission.

Never worth it...  greed, horrid thing...

adrianstone's picture

absolutely right    1 thanks

adrianstone | | Permalink

J A Adams is absolutely right. The Standards Committee need to get their hosue in order, who approved Meeson's appointment and what checks were undertaken in advance of this?

Disgraceful.

according to the letter I    2 thanks

courty61 | | Permalink

according to the letter I received from the ATT yesterday, they had asked Andrew about this case when he was made President and he 'gave them assurances that the case was weak and would not proceed'

 

Obviously he just thought that he was bigger and above the system

 

I also assume there will be moves to get all this money back etc?

B Adder's picture

He would say that - wouldn't he    1 thanks

B Adder | | Permalink

Methinks it all too cosy at the top !

it is unfortunate that    2 thanks

justsotax | | Permalink

most of these people at the 'top' are there purely as an ego trip and have little care for the sector/industry/body they are top of.  

"What was Andrew thinking of?" . . I might get away with it . .    2 thanks

redalasdair | | Permalink

Surely he should be disqualified from being a company director 'sine die'.  A six year ban is appropriate for a director who behaves recklessly, but is not deliberate fraud against the taxpayer ten times worse?

JAADAMS's picture

Out in 4 years...

JAADAMS | | Permalink

I've just checked the sentencing - it states:

Custodial sentence for 8 years and 6 months

Likely release date : 6 June 2017

Disqualified from acting as a company director for 6 years

>> I too received the email letter from the ATT Board yesterday - good that they were so quick - they obviously appreciated that the members would be concerned.

BKD's picture

Hang on a sec

BKD | | Permalink

courty61 wrote:

according to the letter I received from the ATT yesterday, they had asked Andrew about this case when he was made President and he 'gave them assurances that the case was weak and would not proceed'

 

Regardless of any assurances that were given - particularly from Andrew himself (I could understand, just about, if Counsel had given the assurances) - what were ATT thinking in appointing him whilst there was a pending fraud case?

davidwinch's picture

Disqualification & release date    1 thanks

davidwinch | | Permalink

It is not possible to disqualify a person from being a company director sine die (indefinitely).  The maximum period of disqualification is 15 years under s2 Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986.

Generally courts set the disqualification period somewhere within one of three 'bands', up to 5 years, 5 to 10 years, 10 to 15 years.  Obviously the court regarded this as a 'middle band' disqualification case.

A prisoner convicted of an offence committed after 3 April 2005 and sentenced to a determinate term (e.g. not 'life') of more than 12 months will normally be automatically released on licence at the half-way point of his sentence.  Release may be earlier in many cases, for example on Home Detention Curfew or Release on Temporary Licence.

Outstanding confiscation debts may delay release.

David

johnjenkins's picture

I'm just surprised    1 thanks

johnjenkins | | Permalink

that the two of them didn't really go for it. Let's face it if you're in a position like that and you choose the fiddledediddle route you've got to go for the really big stuff and certainly make sure you've hidden the money well. Otherwise there's just no point.

Not good publicity    2 thanks

The Black Knight | | Permalink

Not good publicity but they were caught and have been convicted.

Which is unusual in itself....I have seen much larger frauds (on an annual pro rata basis) where no action has been taken and the perpetrators been allowed to do it all again.

It always amazes me how daft these crimes seem to be.

"What was Andrew thinking of?"    1 thanks

earlsfield | | Permalink

JAADAMS wrote:

I trust that the CIOT/ATT Standards Committe will consider their role.

Quote from ATT's website: 

The joint Professional Standards Committee of the Institute and the Association of Taxation Technicians contributes to the achievement of ATT’s objective of promoting and enforcing standards of professional conduct amongst those engaged in the provision of advice and services in relation to taxation and monitoring and supervising their compliance with money laundering legislation. 

...What was Andrew thinking of?

ATT(Fellow) member

"What was Andrew thinking of?" you ask?

I imagine Meeson was thinking of greed, greed, greed, greed, greed, crime, crime, crime, crime, crime.  You speak of "Andrew" as though he is a friend who deserves our understanding or even sympathy.

People who hold up sub-post offices might hope to get away with £10,000.  Meeson and associate stole £5m.  And he might be a company director in 6 years!  Madness!

 

 

Thank you - not

earlsfield | | Permalink

johnjenkins wrote:

that the two of them didn't really go for it. Let's face it if you're in a position like that and you choose the fiddledediddle route you've got to go for the really big stuff and certainly make sure you've hidden the money well. Otherwise there's just no point.

I am sure we all wish to thank you for your encouragement of large scale crime.  Tell me you are not a qualified accountant.  If you are, hang your head in shame.

Ban duration

Nick HP | | Permalink

"Generally courts set the disqualification period somewhere within one of three 'bands', up to 5 years, 5 to 10 years, 10 to 15 years.  Obviously the court regarded this as a 'middle band' disqualification case."

 

So what exactly does one have to do for the courts to regard something as an "upper band" case? Given that these people will spend 2/3 of the ban sitting in a prison cell, the effective duration of the ban is 2 years. Doesn't seem like much for a scam worth £5m.

 

Is there no way the ban could have been commenced from their date of release? 

Un called for?    1 thanks

The Black Knight | | Permalink

alastairt wrote:

johnjenkins wrote:

that the two of them didn't really go for it. Let's face it if you're in a position like that and you choose the fiddledediddle route you've got to go for the really big stuff and certainly make sure you've hidden the money well. Otherwise there's just no point.

I am sure we all wish to thank you for your encouragement of large scale crime.  Tell me you are not a qualified accountant.  If you are, hang your head in shame.

I think the point of satire was that this is easy to commit and usually easy to get away with and in this case a bit pathetic given the choice of fraud chosen when their education could have really stolen some money unnoticed by rather pathetic enforcement agencies.

The ability in the crime is a disgrace to the profession too?

ATT

JILL JONES | | Permalink

We do expect better from our Tutors. They have let us all down

 

A long sentence should deter other from doing this

johnjenkins's picture

Thank you Black Knight    2 thanks

johnjenkins | | Permalink

I was just about to give alastairt a broadside.

I don't think there is any deterent from not turning someone to the "dark" side.

I remember a high ranking policeman who had unlimited funds at his disposal to fight cirme but seemed to get his own mixed up with it. Rules were rapidly changed afterwards.

What does amaze me is that fraudsters buy stuff which is relatively easy to find. The real drug barons money is never found unless of course a tip off leads them to £22b dollars cash.

mydoghasfleas's picture

Turning a blind eye    2 thanks

mydoghasfleas | | Permalink

They were charged with fraud in late 2011.  That's rather different from being the subject of an HMRC investigation.  He had been arrested in September 2010.  That is pretty strong stuff and still he became president.  I accept there is a world of difference between arrest and laying charges.  But for an Association that demands probity of its members simply accepting an explanation, "Don't worry, I have been arrested but it's all OK" begs the question of how the appointment was allowed to proceed.

Absolutely

Fatt | | Permalink

And The Council appear to be under estimating the effect this has had on their membership :