Farmer jailed over £1.4m VAT fraud

A FARMER who defrauded HMRC of £1.4m in a VAT fraud to splurge it on an Aston Martin DB9 and a speedboat before fleeing to Zimbabwe to escape prosecution has been jailed for three years and four months.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigators discovered that Paul Hussell had submitted 41 fraudulent VAT repayment claims for April 2008 to August 2011 in relation to his father’s tenanted farm.

Hussell, 50, of Kemerton, near Tewkesbury, was arrested in November 2011, but absconded in February 2012 to avoid further questioning.

He returned to the UK from Zimbabwe in late 2012 and, after a period of ill-health, was re-arrested and charged in November 2013. HMRC’s arresting officers found him cowering in the bathroom of his rented farm cottage.

Colin Spinks, HMRC’s assistant director of criminal investigation, said: “Justice has finally caught up with Paul Hussell who fled the UK to avoid facing up to his crimes. In the end, after a lengthy investigation by our officers, he pleaded guilty to this sizeable VAT fraud and is now paying the price for his criminal activities.”

Hussell, who pleaded guilty at Worcester Crown Court, tried to legitimise his VAT claims by producing false invoices, which he hid under a wardrobe at his home. The faked paperwork was uncovered by HMRC investigators during a house search.

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