Accountant jailed for £11m tax dodge

A London accountant has been jailed for eight years for stealing £11m in
income tax and Value Added Tax by manipulating both his clients’ and his own tax

Christos Charalambous, 58, of Palmers Green, London was found guilty on six
counts of cheating the public purse at Blackfriars Crown Court following a trial
that lasted seven weeks.

The taxman said Charalambous completed over 6,000 self assessment tax returns
for clients which included fictitious expenses claims in order to increase the
tax repayments due.

He also understated the income he received from client fees on his personal
returns and failed to register, declare and pay VAT due on his accountancy firm

Many of Charalambous’ clients were from other EU countries and had little
understanding of the UK tax system, HM Revenue & Customs said.

Steve Armitt, assistant director of criminal investigation for HMRC, said:

“Charalambous is a thoroughly dishonest accountant who was motivated by
greed. He betrayed the trust of innocent and vulnerable people to feed that
greed. This deprived the nation’s public services of millions of pounds.

“Our aim is to pursue and prosecute those involved in this type of criminal
activity and reclaim the proceeds of their crime.”

The court heard how Charalambous would submit tax returns for his clients to
the Inland Revenue (up to April 2005) and HMRC (from April 2005) without showing
his clients what information he was including.

He would then receive the repayments from IR/HMRC, deduct a minimum of 15%
fee and repay the remainder to his clients, who would not question the amount
refunded as they trusted him to complete the returns correctly.

The total amount of repayment claimed by Charalambous on his clients’ behalf
was £11,222,472.

Between 1997/98 and 2004/05, he understated client fee income on his own Self
Assessment tax returns by £807,406. He also failed to declare and pay £180,082
VAT due to HMRC, the taxman said.

On passing sentence, His Honour Judge Richardson said: “The offences are more
serious as you were a chartered accountant. HM Revenue & Customs ought to be
able to trust you as should your clients.

“You exposed them to the dishonesty that you practice. With tax enquiries,
you responded with evasion and lies.”

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