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accountant in handcuffs | accountingweb | Crooked tax adviser jailed for £107k theft
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Adviser jailed for £107k theft of clients’ repayments

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A corrupt tax adviser has been found guilty of claiming £107k of self assessment repayments on behalf of his clients and then keeping the money himself.

28th Sep 2023
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Crooked accountant Joseph Logue has been handed a jail sentence of three years and nine months for stealing £107k in tax fraud.

An HMRC investigation found that the tax agent had taken advantage of the trust put in him by several clients, some of whom had considered him a close friend. Over a four-year period beginning in 2015, Logue submitted false and genuine self assessment returns claiming repayments on behalf of clients. When the money arrived from HMRC he kept it for himself rather than passing it on.

The nefarious 64-year-old from Northampton spent the stolen cash on alcohol and hotels, either telling his clients that HMRC had not sent the repayments, or simply not informing them about the claims made on their behalf.

Victim impact

Logue’s victims included a man who was receiving end-of-life care and has since died. His widow testified against Logue in court. Logue filed a fraudulent self assessment claim using the deceased’s details, an abuse of his power as the man’s tax agent and also of his trust, as according to the widow Logue was a close personal friend.

As well as being deprived of money that, in many cases, they were entitled to, several of the individuals targeted by the villainous agent suffered other serious consequences. Some were chased by HMRC for debts they had no idea were owed, while others found themselves unable to claim vital Covid-19 support payments as a result of bogus self assessment returns submitted by Logue that overstated their income. 

Cautionary tale

The sentence should, HMRC says, act as a warning to anyone considering taking advantage of their power in this way.

Nick Stone, operational lead in HMRC’s fraud investigation service, said: “Joseph Logue’s despicable behaviour has left a trail of destruction for victims who placed their trust in him and the professional services he was claiming to offer.

“Some victims had money stolen they were genuinely entitled to claim. We are now working with the victims and relatives to correct tax records.
“Tax agents hold a position of enormous trust and using clients’ details to steal money is a huge breach of that trust.

“This sentence should serve as a warning to the minority of corrupt professionals who wrongly believe they can use their knowledge and position of trust to commit tax crime.”

This is a clear message from HMRC that the tax authority will investigate and prosecute, with severe consequences, agents who are suspected of acting fraudulently. But this tale should also act as cautionary example for taxpayers putting their tax affairs in the hands of an agent. 

All too often we see cases hit the tribunals where taxpayers have found themselves in a sticky situation having put too much faith in a trusted agent. Recent examples include Sunil Joseph, a social worker who followed the incorrect advice of an agent after failing to check the credentials of a self-proclaimed tax expert; John and Janet Beesley whose agent hadn’t the faintest grasp of CGT; and ex-army veteran Jason James who ended up being forced to sell his house to pay for his mistake in relying on the advice of his agent. In each of these cases, the taxpayer was landed with a hefty fine after the tribunals confirmed that in following the dodgy advice of an agent without checking the details themselves they had failed to take reasonable care.

Taking responsibility

Of course, not all errors, and much less so deliberate illegal behaviour, can be prevented by the innocent taxpayer, and Logue is an extreme case. But it does raise the question of just how much reliance taxpayers should place on professional agents when it comes to dealing with their tax affairs.

Presumably none of the taxpayers for whom Logue had submitted false information had checked the details in their returns before they were submitted. If they had done so, they would surely have queried and corrected the submissions. In cases where information was correct and repayments were due, but Logue pocketed the money on receipt, could the taxpayer have logged onto their personal tax account, seen that payment had been made according to HMRC and chased this up with the tax authority themselves?

On the other hand, the reputation of the accountancy profession and the expertise of tax agents is such that taxpayers should be able to hand a certain amount of responsibility over to a qualified professional without checking every detail themselves, just as we would a doctor or mechanic.

Vigilance is key

What is clear is that HMRC and the tax tribunals do not err towards lenience when it comes to taxpayers handing over sole accountability to their agents. Individuals should be vigilant in checking the credentials of agents and the figures reported on their behalf, correct any errors where possible and report any suspicious or fraudulent behaviour to the relevant professional body or HMRC.

Stone also reminded taxpayers and agents: “Anyone with information about suspected tax fraud can call the Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”

Replies (21)

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By JCresswellTax
28th Sep 2023 13:41

Oft, that's a hard one to take on the chin.

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By Tonykelly
28th Sep 2023 23:18

"Presumably none of the taxpayers for whom Logue had submitted false information had checked the details in their returns before they were submitted. If they had done so, they would surely have queried and corrected the submissions. "

Not sure this is correct, as he presumably showed one set of figures to the clients and filed entirely different figures.

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Replying to Tonykelly:
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By possep
29th Sep 2023 08:20

A lot of these rogue individuals amend the tax returns after submission. I bet he also did that.

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By Self-Employed and Happy
29th Sep 2023 09:39

I see he is described in the article as an "accountant", I don't see any mention of his qualifications.

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Replying to Self-Employed and Happy:
By JCresswellTax
29th Sep 2023 09:42

Doesn't say 'qualified' accountant. You do no know you don't need to be qualifed to call yourself an accountant, don't you?

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Replying to JCresswellTax:
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By Postingcomments
29th Sep 2023 17:25

That might be the point he is making.

Especially as the vast majority of the general public (God bless 'em) think that anyone who uses the title "accountant" has to be qualified.

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By Springfield
29th Sep 2023 10:08

A shocking story but sadly it's not uncommon for people in a position of financial trust in small or large businesses, councils or charities, to take advantage.

In my experience this often begins as a self-styled "loan". Someone is a bit short of money or has a gambling or drugs habit and quietly borrows a little, meaning to pay it back. Then, as time passes, the need for cash grows and they discover that no-one has noticed the money is missing. Things escalate and it's often a relief when they are finally caught.

What we can do without though is the smug. self-righteous quotes from HMRC.

Put your own house in order first.....

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By JustAnotherUser
29th Sep 2023 10:29

other news sources...

A tax agent
Tax adviser
tax crook

Not one mention of him being an "accountant"

....this really hits a nerve for some, I see why though.

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By KIKISROSSIDES
29th Sep 2023 11:22

I for one would be interested in the qualifications of this so called accountant!
I have known a few unqualified people who called themselves accountants but had no clue of what they were doing. The result was the loss of thousands of pounds in tax by unsuspecting individuals and this made me wonder whether the reason no one seems to care or attempts to stop these so called accountants from operating is because the revenue stands to gain from their stupidity and lack of knowledge?

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Replying to KIKISROSSIDES:
By JCresswellTax
29th Sep 2023 12:08

Just to balance this, I have also come across qualified accountants who also don't have a clue. Qualifications don't meed you are good. Nor, do they mean you won't be a crook.

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By anthonystorey
29th Sep 2023 11:39

How did he get away with it for 4 years. Taxpayers are notified by HMRC of any repayments that are sent to their agent so they must have known that they were being made.

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By GrayMan
29th Sep 2023 13:07

Unlike a solicitor, anyone can call themselves an accountant, and some of the largest frauds are committed by qualified accountants who know better how to conceal their theft. I was never formally qualified as an accountant as I trained for my profession within the inland revenue in the 1960s. This was an exceeding clumsy theft as it would have left so many paper trails eventually discovery was inevitable. By far the greatest numbers of thefts inside the revenue are due to"automatic bank notification of income & other government sources," then by "means testing" finally for the more sophisticated "dead men on the payroll." Where people are skilled at hiding assets they can take years to solve. While I was happy to submit accounts, tax computations & tax returns we always kept copies and it surprises me that anyone would want their tax refunds sent to an agent.

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By chrisowen
29th Sep 2023 14:03

Wouldn't it be better if the repayment was paid direct to the client ?

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By Mr J Andrews
29th Sep 2023 15:15

There was an ''accountant'' name Logue
Whose profession wasn't quite in vogue
He caused quite a stink
Doing time in clink
Good enough for the ####### rogue.

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By richards1
29th Sep 2023 15:27

3 years? That’s the cruel thing for the poor sods that have been duped

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By WongR
29th Sep 2023 16:22

I have heard a story from a new client (back then - over 10 years ago) - about an "accountant" who'd (allegedly) asked for many clients to pay money into a self assessment account that was not their's with a fake tax liability that was not due. Then this "accountant" disappeared abroad along with all the funds paid to HMRC.

My point is : there are still alot of people in business without full know-how of the tax system and rely on their accountant. Unfortunately sometimes this trust can be abused.

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Replying to WongR:
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By justsotax
29th Sep 2023 17:02

the same people are usually told they won the nigerian lottery......

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Replying to justsotax:
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By WongR
29th Sep 2023 18:10

A little harsh I think - many people are often recommended their accountants by friends and family - and this "accountant" I'm sure would have built up a level of trust and rapport with them - before ultimately betraying them.

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By Postingcomments
29th Sep 2023 17:47

I suppose if you have got to 64 and want to blow £100k you haven't got on hotels and booze, why not?

Now he gets "three hots and a cot" gratis - though I doubt the prison hooch will be up to the quality he is used to. Unless maybe he does the staffs' tax returns in exchange for gifts? There might be a film in that somewhere........

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Replying to Postingcomments:
paddle steamer
By DJKL
02nd Oct 2023 11:43

Rita Hayworth?

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