AN ACCOUNTANT who set up bogus businesses and used former clients’ details to try to steal more than £86,000 in tax repayments has been jailed for 20 months.
Angelo Luca, 34, was arrested in December 2014 after an HMRC investigation into his tax affairs revealed he had set himself up as a director of three businesses, including an Italian delicatessen and coffee shop – none of which ever traded.
In an attempt to persuade HMRC his businesses were real, Luca faked copies of a lease for premises near Putney railway station, invoices for catering equipment and architectural plans for the shop. He used these documents to support seven fraudulent VAT repayment claims totalling £69,087, between March 2013 and September 2014.
HMRC found that Luca had fraudulently used the details of some of his former clients to register himself as their authorised agent so he could submit false income tax self-assessment returns. This resulted in £17,263.46 being paid into his personal bank account. He used the proceeds from the fraud to send money to his family in Sicily, but after being caught he offered to repay what he had stolen.
“As an accountant Luca knew full well the seriousness of his criminal actions, but he thought by forging invoices and paperwork that he would he would be able to substantiate his claims,” said Chris Gill, assistant director of HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service.
“He stole money that should have been spent on vital public services, not to be used as his own personal nest egg. He is now paying the price with a criminal conviction and time behind bars.”
Luca was ordered to pay £21,587 in compensation by Kingston Crown Court.