Jailed accountant ordered to repay £3.5m

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Jailed management accountant Aquil Ahmed along with his construction service director co-conspirator have the choice to either repay more than £3.5m or face a further five years imprisonment and still owe the money.

Ahmed and Victor Shearer, who used fraudulent payroll schemes to enjoy a “lavish lifestyle”, were ordered at a Maidstone crown court confiscation hearing last week to repay a total of £3,578,999.33 within three months or serve longer prison sentences.

In May 2016 Ahmed admitted using his Keepers accountancy business to fraudulently operate the payroll for Shearer’s company, Leaner Logistics Limited. For two and a half years, the pair along with Christopher Azzopardi used a network of companies and bank accounts to hide £6.9m in VAT, national insurance and CIS deductions from HMRC.

Short-term contractors introduced by Shearer believed Ahmed’s payroll company was calculating their wages and paying their taxes to HMRC, but in fact, the three men kept the VAT and the PAYE and CIS deductions.

Ahmed used the money to fund trips to Dubai and the Monaco Grand Prix, own properties in the UK, USA and Turkey, and purchased a Bentley.

Both men now face selling their assets as the criminal benefit is larger than the available assets. Ahmed’s criminal benefit was calculated as £4,165,494.08 and Shearer's as £1,326,938.35. The confiscation court ordered Ahmed to repay £2.9m within three months and Shearer's has £646,000 to pay back.

Speaking about the confiscation hearing order, HMRC’s assistant director at the fraud investigations service, Nicol Shepherd commented: “Ahmed and Shearer stole millions of pounds from the UK economy, using numerous UK and offshore companies to hide their fraud.”

“They were driven by greed, abusing systems that are designed to ensure workers are paid correctly and taxes paid to HMRC.

“They are still serving their prison sentences and if they fail to comply with these orders they will spend even more time behind bars - and still owe the money.” 

Ahmed is currently serving his seven years and eight months sentence. He was also disqualified from being a company director for 10 years. Shearer, meanwhile, was jailed for seven years and six months for his part in the conspiracy and was also found guilty for money laundering. 

About Richard Hattersley

Richard is AccountingWEB's practice correspondent. If you have any comments or suggestions for us get in touch.

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10th Jan 2018 10:35

Fine words from HMRC and I'm sure their intent is well meant, but I'd be willing to hazard a guess that the taxpayer will see precious little of the sums mentioned.

Instead HMRC finds it easier to chase individuals who rightly fear a legal action, even when they have done nothing illegal, rather than the hardened criminal reported on here.

Are there any statistics (not protected by legal privilege) that demonstrate how much HMRC actually collects under such orders and what percentage is that of the gross order?

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to G Webber CTA
10th Jan 2018 11:59

That seems a bit harsh - the inference is that they're damned if they do and damned if they don't. These cases are not always easy to get convictions due to slimy defence barristers e.g. in the Lunn case.

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to thomas34
10th Jan 2018 22:27

And that's equally harsh. A good barrister doesn't mean they're slimey, it means they're a good barrister. Do you consider yourself a good accountant/good CTA?

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18th Jan 2018 21:32

With regard to monies ordered to be paid v monies collected, it is not that easy to make comparisons because monies collected (say) this year will be a mix of monies ordered to be paid on old & new orders in all years to date. Also I am not aware of any figures for HMRC cases separate from other criminal convictions.
The latest figures I have are for 2015-16 and are for all confiscation orders but in England & Wales only. In that year 5,934 confiscation orders were made, the total ordered to be paid under them was £454m. The total collected in that year from confiscation orders was just under £205m.
Historically it has typically been the case that smaller orders were more likely to be paid in full. In part this is because larger orders can refer to alleged unidentified (or 'hidden') assets - which may or may not exist in reality.
David

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