Accountant submitted false self-assessments to fund gambling addiction

AN ACCOUNTANT has been jailed after she submitted false self-assessment claims worth £296,000 on behalf of her unsuspecting clients in order to fund her gambling habit.

An investigation by HM Revenue and Customs revealed Gail Henshall, from Wolverhampton, had submitted false claims on behalf of almost 200 people – generating huge repayments which she then gambled away.

Between March 2008 and January 2014 Henshall, 48, received multiple tax refunds and then passed many of these into an account controlled by her friend Mario Troisi. Troisi, 52, subsequently transferred the cash back into Henshall’s various online betting accounts. He was also jailed for his part in the fraud.

Henshall submitted legitimate repayment claims on behalf of her clients – passing the money on to them. But she would then amend returns and resubmit, without their knowledge, to increase the repayment amounts – but keeping the extra cash that was paid by HMRC. In an attempt to cover her tracks she also altered clients’ personal details such as their address.

Henshall and Troisi were each sentenced to 32 months in prison when they appeared at Warwick Crown Court this week.

Assistant director of HMRC’s fraud investigation service Richard Wentel said: “Henshall’s clients were paying for a service to help keep their own tax affairs in order but she was abusing her position to steal hundreds of thousands of pounds, using their details as a smokescreen.

“She was despicably using money that should be funding vital public services to feed her gambling habit.

“Troisi played an instrumental part in her scam, as he laundered the money which Henshall then gambled away. Now they are both paying the price, losing their reputation and freedom.”

Related reading