Ex-ATT president Meeson played ‘leading role’ in £5m pension fraud

FORMER ATT PRESIDENT Andrew Meeson played a leading role in a “blatant” £5m pension tax relief scam, a court heard.

The former president of the Association of Taxation Technicians allegedly filed fraudulent tax relief claims with HM Revenue and Customs himself, which led to pay-outs of just under £5m to administrator Tudor Capital Management (TCM), Birmingham Crown Court was told yesterday, Accountancy Age’s sister publication Professional Pensions reports.

Meeson is accused, along with Peter Spencer Bradley, Alison Jayne Bradley and Steven Price, of conspiracy to cheat HM Revenue and Customs between 1 January 2006 and 30 April 2010. All four defendants have pleaded not guilty.

Price denies a further count of acquiring criminal property from the proceeds of the fraud between 1 June 2007 and 30 April 2010.

Prosecution counsel David Farrer QC told the jury Meeson was a hitherto distinguished accountant and tax consultant who advised HMRC itself on tax cheating and evasion.

The prosecution said the former tax boss filed false ‘relief at source’ (RAS) claims for two fictitious pension schemes on behalf of the Moya group of payroll companies – which he signed himself – and dealt with any HMRC queries.

Meeson and married couple Peter and Alison Bradley were directors of TCM and allegedly carved up the profits from the fraud.

The jury was told Peter Bradley was responsible for finding pensions business for the TCM and was the sole signatory on the Moya pension scheme bank account.

His wife Alison Bradley handled large money transfers and was a point of contact within TCM on external correspondence, the court heard.

Farrer said: “The Moya fraud was so blatant that no director, no one with a worthwhile role at TCM, could possibly be unaware of it.”

The three defendants paid themselves huge sums of money, through “exorbitant” fees to TCM and a total of £1.8m payments from the Moya account to Alison Bradley until January 2010 and £550,000 to Meeson over the same period, the jury was told.

Mr Bradley’s mother, Maxine Bradley, received £100,000 and his shooting acquaintance Ian Collins received £20,000 in unsecured loans when his company went into liquidation, the prosecution said.

The pension scheme of consulting company Spencer Bradley Meeson Professional Services – of which the three defendants were also directors – allegedly received £500,000.

A further £173,000 was allegedly paid to Universal Services, a company owned by Steven Price.

Jurors were told an investment of just under £1m in Norton Racing was “dressed up” as a loan on behalf of the pension scheme, while another £50,000 in payments remains unexplained.

Farrer said the defendants allegedly used their “winnings” to pay solicitors’ fees on a new home for Meeson, fees on an office for the Bradleys, a £1,500 monthly allowance for the Bradleys’ daughter, and a £180,000 loan to a “woman friend” of Meeson’s, Charlotte McCavana, to purchase a house.

Alison Bradley also made three further payments totalling £200,000 to Price for his services as a “sham” trustee and the use of false documents, the prosecution claimed.

Price has admitted criminal possession of a false passport and driving license in the name of Shaun Stokes, a man who died in 2003, but denies their knowing use in a tax fraud.

The prosecution said in later interviews that Meeson attempted to implicate Price, who had been appointed trustee of the second Moya scheme, arguing everything was done under his direction.

The defendants supplied a dossier to investigators in November 2010 which contained letters and documents that the prosecution said were “clearly concocted” to support their defence and place the blame on Price.

Meeson and the Bradleys also claimed HMRC investigators had foolishly missed a large number of vital documents archived with a company called Docustore, jurors were told.

Docustore wound up in July 2007 before any RAS payments from the Revenue began and the documents were never found, the court heard.

The trial continues…

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