HM Revenue and Customs has sent a strong message to potential VAT fraudsters
after a man was sent to prison for six years last week for his part in a
multi-million pound mobile phone scam.
Mark Selby pleaded guilty at the Royal Courts of Justice to his involvement
between May 2002 and May 2003 in a Missing Trader Intra Community (MTIC) fraud
involving the bogus sale of mobile phones.
The fraud was carried out through various companies, including Selby’s Maple
Link France, whose account was credited with £326.5m during the period for
phones sold to 12 UK companies. The UK purchasers then failed to pay VAT.
Selby was arrested by HMRC and extradited from France back to the UK in
November 2004. Last week, he was sentenced to five years imprisonment for
cheating the Revenue, six months imprisonment for associated money laundering
offences and six months for the five counts of contempt of court.
Robert Gray, assistant chief investigation officer at HMRC, said in a
statement: ‘Tackling this type of crime is HMRC’s top fraud priority. MTIC fraud
is a deliberate attack on the VAT system, perpetrated by organised criminals
operating across and beyond the European Union.’
Anthony Elliott-Square, chairman of the Federation of Technological
Industries, which represents UK mobile phone and component traders, welcomed the
sentence, but added that HMRC is still penalising innocent firms.
‘We welcome HMRC’s action when it targets fraudsters. That is where its prime
job should be, but the problem is that it also tackles innocent people trying
their best to earn an honest living doing honest trade,’ he said.
‘As long as HMRC is catching fraudsters who are doing wrong, it is a good
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