Former ATT boss on trial for £5m fraud

Andrew Meeson and three associates have been accused of taking £5m in a “simple and very lucrative scam” by claiming tax relief on fictitious pension contributions.

The former Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT) president and three business partners are alleged to have conspired to cheat HMRC between 1 January 2006 and 30 April 2010.

The four defendants were charged with tax fraud in October 2011 and have since strongly denied the charges.

The trial got underway in Birmingham on 7 January and all four defendants pleaded “not guilty”.

Continued...

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Comments

Three months trial

The Black Knight | | Permalink

My goodness....looks like they are going to get to the point quickly then? Glad I am not on jury service be an absolute disaster.

Is investing in Norton a mitigating factor?

ATT President and others    4 thanks

Donald6000 | | Permalink

Well, I am thankful that I never became a member in that case because look at how this has ended up - doing their examinations to get their qualification, which I would have had to rescind anyway after this altercation.

I wonder whether these professional organisations are really worth it, I honestly do and so often these days the top firms are mentioned in concordance with scams.

These days I am beginning to think that those of us who are not members of the professional bodies are the real winners, not the scamsters who tell us what to do and then blag their way through under the counter.

Disgraceful, mendacious people.

 

 

I suggest that people wait ....    1 thanks

Trevor Scott | | Permalink

.... for all the facts to come out. Sadly, I learned to distrust HMRC's claims, which are often far from any reality or indeed match the evidence.

HMRC's claims    2 thanks

Donald6000 | | Permalink

I am sorry that you don't think HMRC can tell fish from foul. Having however been trained by them and then become qualified and negotiated my way through the hell that are chartered and certified accountants I would much rather trust them than some of my so-called colleagues.

Anyway for the President of the ATT to get even mentioned in a Ponzi pension scheme shows that somewhere along the line someone was up to no-good. Sorry but the profession  is becoming riddled with it. I don't need to know about this case; I have seen the evasion and shifty eyed blagging from "accountants" myself.

 

Very serious

philfromleeds | | Permalink

You would think that working so hard to pass the qualifications would in itself make a person honest because who would want to waste all that effort. So greed must be such a powerful sponsor to enhance a professionals dishonesty. Actually there is one other ingredient and that is the beliefe they wont get found out. This shows all potential fraudsters that you might be found out. I have used the word might. For people to give up any ambitions of getting away with fraud they got to know that they will get found out.

These fraudsters were prepared to pay tax on their fraudalent activity. They just would have looked successful at running their businesses. The uplift in money would not have rang alarm bells.

So it shows HMRC they have to AUDIT, AUDIT and AUDIT. Simple!

So who else might be doing this fraud?

 

johnjenkins's picture

It is probably    1 thanks

johnjenkins | | Permalink

a case of would you nick £1k? No. Would you nick £1M? Might think about it. Would you nick £10m? Would definately think about it. So for me it would have to be £100m plus with a cast iron certainty that I would get away with it. Now, given my age, and there is no cast iron certainty, I would more than likely refrain from such a scheme.

So it must be a very greedy bunch to try and get away with what I perceive a mere pitance for losing their credibility and facing being banged up.

Wait until the full facts are out    5 thanks

taxwriter | | Permalink

The report above is only the prosecution's side of the story. Commentators should wait  until the defence has at least had its say before condemning a potentially innocent man. You do not know the full facts.

Even if Andrew Meeson was somehow caught up in a fraud that does not mean the ATT was anyway involved or has any implications for that most upright and correct organisation.

Dodgy Permits

The Black Knight | | Permalink

Donald6000 wrote:

I am sorry that you don't think HMRC can tell fish from foul. Having however been trained by them and then become qualified and negotiated my way through the hell that are chartered and certified accountants I would much rather trust them than some of my so-called colleagues.

Anyway for the President of the ATT to get even mentioned in a Ponzi pension scheme shows that somewhere along the line someone was up to no-good. Sorry but the profession  is becoming riddled with it. I don't need to know about this case; I have seen the evasion and shifty eyed blagging from "accountants" myself.

 

HMRC frequently do not know their A**e from their elbow.....and this is what enables the shifty eyed blagging accountants to ply their trade.

Finding an officer that can be bothered and has any technical skill or ability to spot the obvious is like searching for the proverbial needle.

Is this chap an accountant anyway? ATT is the Association of taxation technicians is it not?

I have seen appalling behaviour from both sides of the fence.

There are still some good guys out here but we are being swept away with the tide?

@John £ 50Billion was the number for me, but only because I could have fixed Africa and Norton motorcycles!

johnjenkins's picture

@The Black Knight    1 thanks

johnjenkins | | Permalink

Great when do we get started? Do I need a balaclava or just a laptop?

Oh yes can we wait until end of Jan?

"Caught up " ????

Supertorben | | Permalink

"Caught up " ????

Accountant anyway?

Donald6000 | | Permalink

I am so sorry that you don't think that people practising tax accountancy need to know anything about accountancy; this must be where I have been going wrong all these years.

But back in the real world, I think you will find that the majority of people who practice tax accountancy are in fact accountants in the more general sense as well; not all firms are able to hire tax specialists with very little knowledge of accounting.

 

 

 

Accountant anyway?    1 thanks

Donald6000 | | Permalink

With reference to my previous entry above, it appears that I may be the one offering an apology. It does not look as if Meeson was an accountant, despite being an ATT President. His qualifications state that he graduated from Cambridge with an MA Classics from Cambridge in 1983 (presumably upgraded from a BA). I don't see anything on his Linkedin profile about him being professionally qualified. Anyway, fascinating, absolutely fascinating....

 

 

Thank you

The Black Knight | | Permalink

The ATT exam I think is tax focused and may not even include an accounts module so you need know nothing about accounts to pass the exam.......to my mind that does not make them an accountant. But anyone with any sort of qualification or not can call themselves an accountant.

The term accountant is often used to describe anyone from the bookkeeper to dodgy tax avoidance scheme providers when often they are not accountants at all.

We seem to get the blame for everything that has numbers in it?

 

Qualifications to become an accountant

Donald6000 | | Permalink

@The Black Knight. Yes, I am beginning to see that people describing themselves as tax people do not have to have any qualifications in accounting and neither, it appears, do a lot of accountants.

The system which applies in the USA and the Latin American countries therefore has rather more to recommend it, which is that you cannot be regarded as a qualified accountant without a BA degree in that subject (accountancy) or that you are a CPA. I would therefore like this to become a condition of becoming an accountant in this country. Not least because I have a BA(Hons) Accounting degree myself and because I have ex Revenue credentials. I would not therefore advise any client to go for someone who is only ATT qualified for fear that if the Revenue started an enquiry case, the ATT would just fold up in the face of a Fully Trained Inspector with knowledge of accounting.

 

It's absolutely essential that we start getting some order into the profession, starting with what you can and cannot call yourself if you are to do some accounting at a reasonable level. As for the ATT, I am afraid I don't and cannot approve of that qualification.

Balaclava

The Black Knight | | Permalink

johnjenkins wrote:

Great when do we get started? Do I need a balaclava or just a laptop?

Oh yes can we wait until end of Jan?

In the age of web cam best be safe and wear the balaclava!

johnjenkins's picture

So balaclava    1 thanks

johnjenkins | | Permalink

and laptop. Hey this is getting real technical. Do you think, if I bring my satnav and shovel, we could go for £100b. Wow the adrenaline is really pumping.

@Donald. Please don't start the stupid arguement between Quals and unquals. To put you right you cannot be regarded as a qualified Accountant in this country unless you have qualified with the relevant body. A MAAT is not regarded as a qualified Accountant. They are a member of the Association of Accounting Technicians (@The Black Knight - do you think we should use one of them as well?) just as a MATT is a member of the Association of Taxation Technicians.

Quite honestly, the state USA is in doesn't really speak highly of its experts.

Unqualified v Qualified    1 thanks

Donald6000 | | Permalink

I think you will find that if ever anyone gets us into trouble, it is the qualified accountants, who constantly seem to be in the news. I will start the argument because if I had a penny for every daft qualified accountant I had ever worked with, I would be a rich person.

 I don't need to be put right on the differentiation. I have been in accounting for more than 30 years and have taken professional level examinations of the ACCA. However I would not pay any money to be a member of any of these professional organisations as I have no brief for them whatsoever. What does the term qualified mean when all qualified accountants seem to do is to bring accountancy into disrepute.

I have a strong suspicion that mostly all you need to be effective is to have a degree in Accounting - you can keep your professional qualifications. 

PS If you think it's such a stupid argument, then don't join in.

 

 

 

My trainee

The Black Knight | | Permalink

My Trainee has a degree in accountancy and she is just starting her accountancy education.....so no a degree is not good enough in my opinion.

Even the ACCA syllabus has been watered down in recent years.

I assume you took the exams but did not pass them?

In any case to get your letters you need the required relevant Practical experience and then to practice you need yet more experience sometimes another exam.

There is a whole lot more to an accountancy qualification than the uninitiated will ever understand...............And no it is not a guarantee the person is a good person any more than a good person is an accountant.

It is not good when individuals bring the profession into disrepute but that is not evidence that all clever people are bad.

johnjenkins's picture

@Donald    2 thanks

johnjenkins | | Permalink

I certainly respect your 30 years in the business and do agree that the "bodies" aren't worth their weight in salt. However this constant arguement between quals and unquals is senseless as it detracts from the real problem and that is human nature. In any walk of life there are dodgy people. High profile including quals, mp's etc. will all attract media attention. Yet the bookkeeper who fiddles £20 a week for 40 years will go unnoticed.

Greed    1 thanks

peter stanley | | Permalink

I think that it was Phil from Leeds who first mentioned greed . There is another 'driver' which is ego . If you find someone with a large ego coupled with greed then you are going to have problems , when this person then couples these two traits with fear then you have a recipe for total disaster - not just for themselves but for everyone else involved . Far better to keep things simple - an excess of material things does not mean happiness - you can only sleep in one bed at a time ! Have fun - Peter

Your trainee

Donald6000 | | Permalink

I would pit my level of qualifications and experience against any Chartered Accountant. I had already gained 15 years of experience when I started on my Accounting Degree. Since graduating, I have had a further 17 years experience. I don't quite see how your trainee matches my profile, even with their Accounting degree.

 

I don't need any further qualifications doing moronic courses. I have chosen to do a BA(Hons)(Open) degree instead.

 

There's a whole lot more to any accounting qualification than the uninitiated will ever understand....I wish you well with that, it sounds like someone saying I am too sexy for my shirt to me. In the meantime I look forward with interest to the next fiasco in which qualified accountants stuff up.

You are right

The Black Knight | | Permalink

You are right I have the body of a God too!

P.s. You can just buy a degree on the web, no need for moronic courses then?

Degree on the web

Donald6000 | | Permalink

I have not purchased the degree on the web; the degree has been methodically conducted over quite a substantial period.Open University degrees are not conducted in the way you seem to suggest. However I am going to leave it there because it seems to me that you don't have any knowledge outside your own discipline, you seem to think that professional accountants are Gods, whereas I think most of them are tin pot nobodies who think they possess knowledge.It's nice to have an argument with you but I do have better things to do with my days than fight complete ignorance. Onwards and upwards.

johnjenkins's picture

In days gone by    1 thanks

johnjenkins | | Permalink

Accountants (qual or unqual) WERE Gods. Just as Solicitors, MP's and the like because values were cherished.

It all started to deteriorate when the Tories got rid of Maggie.

Computers, whizzy software etc. haven't helped. I personall don't think that having the knowledge by whatever route means you are competant. It's the way you apply that knowledge and the values you adhere to.

I too have a Godlike body, or perhaps Podlike.

and to think

justsotax | | Permalink

no chartered accountant has ever attempted any type of fraud....although presumably in the cases where it has been relating to tax I guess i would argue that they are not really qualified and therefore not part of our 'gang'.....

 

 

and to think    1 thanks

Donald6000 | | Permalink

I have heard of chartered accountants devising anti-avoidance schemes for clients to avoid UK tax, which to my mind, is just as bad as fraud. What you are saying to people is that you can earn big money within the UK and not pay tax on it. What's the difference between aggressive avoidance and tax evasion, one wonders.

argument

Rosalinda Taylor | | Permalink

I am similar to you.  I have BA degree and practicing accountant for 30 years.  I am not a member of those big bodies so, they can call me unqualified. Anyway, should you all be working? its not end of January yet! I shall go back to work. Lots to do. Good night.

johnjenkins's picture

@Rosalind

johnjenkins | | Permalink

May I ask what was the point of getting a degree in Accounting if you don't get qualified?

Being an articled clerk in a professional office would have given you much more experience in a shorter space of time.

This is not a dig Iam genuinly interested as I meet many people who achieve the same goals by different routes, and their stories are sometimes amazing.

A degree never made sense?

The Black Knight | | Permalink

A degree never made sense because when I did my exams a four year degree course exempted you from level 1 (a foundation course you could do in one year or sit 5 papers with home study)

Now you get significantly more exemptions for a degree.....but they are certainly still no where near professional exams.

I think that accountancy was one of those subjects that were just sold as degrees for the sake of it like, media studies or child care...Unfortunate if you have been sold a pup when you could have done the real thing for less money and time? R that's the answer Money ? Someone makes more money selling a degree course?

If I was advising someone how to get the necessary skills and qualifications from scratch it would be straight into professional exams if you meet the entry qualifications or if you don't, do AAT first to get you a good grounding and onto the ladder. A degree would not even figure in it and is all rather pointless.

 

Pardon

The Black Knight | | Permalink

Donald6000 wrote:

I have heard of chartered accountants devising anti-avoidance schemes for clients to avoid UK tax, which to my mind, is just as bad as fraud. What you are saying to people is that you can earn big money within the UK and not pay tax on it. What's the difference between aggressive avoidance and tax evasion, one wonders.

How can an accountant not know the difference?

and these schemes are not always accountancy firms sometimes just Banks? or other institutions that do not have the same ethical standards?

Both problems Avoidance (quite a lot don't work) and Evasion (criminal) Exist because HMRC staff do not have the ability or will to clamp down on these problems.

Both have been allowed to get completely out of hand while HMRC concentrate their efforts on squeezing the last drop of blood out of honest taxpayers (almost it seems in an attempt to get rid of them?)

This was foreseeable with self assessment...Prior to this things happened slower but it wasn't so easy to get a pile of balony past a decent inspector.....No you can file any old crap decide how much tax you would like to pay and have a very low chance of being caught  ...and when you are... HMRC can only deal with one line at a time so miss most of the tax evaded anyway. It really is a disgrace.

try reading some of the FT tribunal cases where evasion has been dealt with in a laid back manner, whole trails of lies and deceit (by client and advisers) yet no prosecution? then if the tax is mentioned the Vat is ignored or vice se versa?

Bit of a bold statement to

Supertorben | | Permalink

Bit of a bold statement to make. Two were expelled from the ICAEW - see Feb' 2012 issue of Economia, page 88.

Others too numerous to mention, including members of Parliament.

Who can be an accountant

RKemsley | | Permalink

From my studies, I understand that any one can call themselves an accountant without any qualifications. It is the audit licence that matters! Which is a bit scary when you think about, despite ethics being a major topic to study. I am a bookkeeper, but cover a wide variety of accounting and budget issues. I test all information out from various sources and come from a retail banking background. I investigate fraud and when you have a safe full of 'real' money the temptation for staff is huge. I believe that Banks have departments that mointor staff performance and activity to discover fraud and maybe the professional bodies need to think about this. The problem is when you know what you are looking for you can find it and know how to hide it. It comes down to personal motives and intergrity and no studies or letters after your name will change that. Honesty is the best way. However, when fraud is discovered in my experience the CPS, insurance companies are not consitent in there approach so in essence you can get away with it - Also, this is 5m but it is unlikey to be it all unless they have gone through every transactions over the past 6 years. A prison sentence? no more than 5-8 years. It could be a price they were willing to pay.