A Bradford accountant and former city councillor who stole more than £100,000 in income tax and VAT has been jailed for two years.
Robert John Payne was jailed after a Revenue investigation into his fraud. He was charged with three counts of tax fraud in August, and a further three counts of acting as a company director while disqualified.
He pleaded guilty to these charges in November and was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment and disqualified from being a company director for six years at Bradford Crown Court this month.
Payne had served as an elected councillor for Bradford City Council and set himself up as an accountant in 2001 without any formal qualifications.
HMRC reported that he had declared almost all of his clients to be operating at a financial loss and entitled to tax refunds.
However, after an investigation ensued, the Revenue found that the majority had been making a profit. Payne was arrested in March 2011.
The accountant had been producing fake invoices and VAT records to support his tax refund claims and had continued to do so while serving a prison sentence for an unrelated offence by duping a friend into making VAT claims on his behalf.
He set up companies in his own name to facilitate the fraud, the proceeds of which he kept for himself, HMRC said.
HMRC had even suspected a claim to be fraudulent and refused to pay out, but Payne threatened them with the intervention of a local MP to push the payment through.
Commenting on the case, assistant director of criminal investigation at HMRC, Jo Tyler, said that the position of trust he was in meant he knew what he was doing was wrong.
“Our investigation led us to believe that Payne’s accountancy business was set up solely as a ruse to steal money from his unsuspecting staff, clients and taxpayers.
“Tax fraud is a serious crime and is treated as such by the justice system. Payne’s sentence sends out a clear message to those who think it is acceptable to submit fraudulent tax claims or who shirk their taxpaying responsibilities,” she said.