Man handed three-year sentence for VAT fraud

A LONDONER who claimed to run a multi-million pound business from his one-bedroom flat has been jailed for three years for stealing almost £350,000 through a VAT fraud.

Neil Lesfrance was arrested by HM Revenue and Customs HMRC in September 2012 when an investigation into his tax affairs revealed he had made false VAT returns to claim repayments that were not due.

When HMRC officers visited Lesfrance in March 2009 to verify his VAT returns for Wembley-based firm Paramount Enterprises, he produced forged documents. These included purchase invoices for items he claimed to be retailing such as photocopiers and large display screens, and bank statements showing a credit of over £2m, to give the impression he was running a successful business. The true balance in his bank account varied from £200 to being overdrawn.

Lesfrance was asked to provide further business records, but he said these had been stolen from the boot of his car and that his stock had been stolen from his flat.

HMRC assistant director for criminal investigation Peter Millroy said: “Lesfrance thought he could get away with stealing large amounts of taxpayers’ money by trading in non-existent goods and reclaiming VAT he had never paid in the first place. He was wrong; crime does not pay and he will now have time to reflect on his actions from behind bars.”

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