A former HMRC criminal investigator from Birmingham, who tipped off his friends when their VAT scam was uncovered, has been jailed for a year.
Richard Barr was sentenced yesterday of misconduct in public office. Barr used his insider information to warn Darren Oliver and Wayne Cockerill, also from Birmingham, that tax scheme had been rumbled. Barr told them to destroy or hide evidence.
Barr had denied the charges against him but was found guilty of after a trial at Manchester Crown Court in January 2015.
“During the time you were an HMRC officer you became aware of the over half a million pound fraud perpetrated by good friends,” said Judge Robert Atherton in his sentencing. “You tipped them off and provided guidance and advice which they followed. As a former Police and Customs Officer you know the public expect a high level of integrity, and confidentiality is of prime importance. Your previous good character does not count.”
Oliver and Cockerill didn’t escape despite Barr’s warning, however, and pleaded guilty to a £557,000 VAT fraud in March 2013 after an investigation codenamed Operation Ladderback was conducted by HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service (FIS).
Barr’s criminal involvement emerged during the process of Oliver and Cockerill’s court case. The revelation sparked an HMRC’s Internal Governance team investigation into Barr and he was arrested in December 2012.
“As a criminal investigator, Richard Barr was expected to act with absolute honesty and integrity. Instead, he despicably abused his position. His actions were a gross abuse of the public’s trust,” said Joff Parsons, Head of HMRC’s Internal Governance Criminal Investigations.
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