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24 August 2018, 14:29 | Updated: 24 August 2018, 14:31
A Birmingham fraudster who tried to steal more than £97,000 by submitting a string of fraudulent VAT claims has been handed a suspended two-year prison sentence.
Harinderpal Singh Lotay, 39, of Moseley, ran Tiger Blue Consultants Ltd where he was caught submitting bogus VAT repayment claims between 2010 and 2012, following an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
Investigators found Lotay lodged the claims using 55 false invoices for three construction companies, all of which shared the same abbreviated name, of TBC. One of the companies, Tiger Blue Consultants Ltd, paid Lotay a modest monthly salary.
But, within hours of receiving a HMRC repayment in December 2012, Lotay handed himself a bonus that bolstered his monthly pay packet to more than £15,000.
Paul Fisher, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “This was a disgraceful attack on the VAT repayment system. Lotay stole money from other taxpayers and used it to dramatically increase his own monthly salary by more than 20 times.
“This case should serve as a warning to anyone who is tempted to abuse the VAT system that we are always checking. We will prosecute anyone who thinks they can steal money paid into the system by honest, hard-working taxpayers.
“VAT fraud is a serious crime and I would ask anyone with information to report it to us online, or to contact our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.” HMRC paid out £38,902 of Lotay’s VAT repayment claims, but withheld the remaining £58,967 after launching an investigation.
Lotay, who is unemployed, repaid all of the money he received ahead of sentencing today. Judge Henderson, sitting at Birmingham Crown Court, described him as “cunning and devious” and handed him a two-year prison sentence, suspended for 15 months. He was also ordered to complete 180 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay £1,500 court costs.
Anyone with information about people or businesses involved in any type of tax fraud can also report it online at https://www.gov.uk/report-an-unregistered-trader-or-business