Devon VAT fraud accountant jailed

Devon accountant Robert Carpenter was jailed at Exeter Crown Court last week after pleading guilty to a £95,000 VAT fraud. 

The accountant from Barnstaple was sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment and was also banned from being a company director for six years.

Carpenter had traded as Accountancy Services. He developed a hands-free megaphone system and became sole director of Voicethrower, a company to market the product. 

Between 2007 and 2012, Carpenter submitted fraudulent VAT repayment claims of over £95,000 to HMRC, consisting of £50,435.85 for Voicethrower and £44,594.15 for Accountancy Services. He received a repayment of £78, 583. 

The Revenue said they became suspicious of his repayments and asked him for invoices, which the accountant said had been destroyed accidentally, but in reality they didn't exist. 

He also admitted that much of the expenditure hadn't been made. 

In December 2013, Carpenter was charged with two counts of fraud, which he pleaded guilty to in court leading to his sentencing.

During proceedings, Judge Gilbert QC, said the fact he was an accountant was a "serious aggravating feature".

“This was not fraudulent from the outset but was carried out over a long period of time. You are an accountant and these offences involved fraudulent VAT returns which were professionally planned for your own benefit over four and a half years," he said.

Commenting on the case, Colin Spinks, assistant director of criminal investigation at HMRC, said Carpenter's position of trust meant he was well aware he was breaking the law.