9am Lowdown: Accountant found guilty of Ponzi scheme

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Good morning. Today’s Lowdown we bring you the news of an accountant jailed over a Ponzi scheme, and the PAC’s findings following the Google and HMRC evidence session earlier this month.

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Accountant found guilty of running Ponzi scheme

An accountant has been disqualified after he was found guilty of running a Ponzi investment scheme.

According to the Lancaster Guardian, Geoffrey Langdale was sentenced at Bradford Crown court, to six years imprisonment, after he obtained over £2.5m from his clients. He informed his clients that he would invest their funds in a high interest-bearing savings account, but in actual fact, he used the deposits to pay earlier investors. The Lancaster Gaurdian reports only £1,112,951 of this was repaid, resulting in losses to clients of £1,220,537.

Commenting after the Langdale’s sentencing, Robert Clarke, group leader of insolvent investigations north, said: “The imposition of a ban for the maximum period of 15 years sends out a clear message that where a company director abuses a position of trust in order to persuade clients to part with their money, the Insolvency Service will take action to remove that director from the business environment for a lengthy period of time.”

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PAC calls on Google tax settlement “disproportionately small”

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) cannot judge whether the £130m tax settlement between Google and HMRC is fair to the tax payer, the PAC has concluded following the February evidence session.

Despite this assessment, the PAC still finds the settlement sum paid by Google “disproportionately small when compared with the size of Google’s business in the UK”. The PAC has recommended HMRC to “lead the way in pressing for changes in international tax rules to prevent aggressive avoidance by multinational companies”.

The PAC expects HMRC to monitor the outcome of the other tax authorities’ investigations into Google. This news comes as the French tax authorities are seeking £1.3bn from Google in unpaid taxes.

Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the PAC, said: “Google has been keen to parade its enthusiasm for simplicity in the tax system but the fact remains the company has chosen to set up a complicated tax strategy specifically designed to minimise its tax bill.”

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Four KPMG retire following tax investigation

The four KPMG partners at the centre of the investigation into their tax affairs have now ‘retired’ from the firm after serving administrative leave.

According to the Belfast Telegraph, Paul Hollway, Eamonn Donaghy, John D'Arcy and Arthur O'Brien have been on leave since November after their arrests by HMRC. The firm refused to comment further to the newspaper about any financial package the quartet received on their departure.

A KPMG spokesperson said: “The firm has co-operated fully with the HMRC investigation, which relates solely to the personal affairs of the four individuals and is not related to the firm's business or the business of its clients."

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