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Reading businessman who stole employees’ tax jailed

A READING-BASED BUSINESSMAN who stole more than £1m from his workers’ pay packets has been jailed for four years after ignoring demands from HM Revenue and Customs to pay his tax bills.

For more than five years, Kenneth Crookes, who ran Reading Office Furniture, deducted income tax and national insurance contributions from his employees’ wages but instead of paying it to HMRC, kept the cash and used it to prop up his ailing business.

Each month Crookes ran his payroll and sent the correct information to HMRC but then failed to follow it up with any payment. He ignored all contact from HMRC and was arrested for the fraudulent evasion of income tax in February 2014.

He admitted that he was responsible for submitting payroll on behalf of his business and pleaded guilty at a hearing at Reading Crown Court in August 2015.

HMRC assistant director for fraud investigation John Cooper said: “Crookes was shamelessly deceiving his own staff who thought they were paying their taxes, but instead he was using the money that should have been paying for public services to fund his own lifestyle and prop us his business.

“It is not fair that the vast majority of people pay their taxes when they’re due, while others choose not to play by the rules. We want to make it clear to those who are involved in tax fraud that we will not tolerate this type of criminality, and will track you down.”

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