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Construction VAT fraudster jailed

24 Sep 12 A Sheffield man who turned to VAT fraud after his construction business failed has been sentenced to two years in jail.

His wife got a suspended sentence.

The couple had earlier pleaded guilty to a £600,000 VAT fraud.

Craig and Tracy Taylor of Wortley, South Yorkshire, were also convicted of money laundering after moving the cash through their personal accounts to fund a two-year spending spree. Checks by HM Revenue & Customs showed that Craig Taylor continued to re-claim VAT even though the couple’s construction firm went bust in the summer of 2009.

HMRC assistant director for criminal investigation Peter Hollier said: “Craig and Tracy Taylor ran a construction business for a number of years, but when it began to fail they started to line their own pockets with the proceeds of an illegal VAT repayments fraud. The repayment claims were totally fictitious as their company had gone into administration and they attempted to steal even more cash from the taxpayer.

“The pair used the money to fund a two-year spending spree, spending thousands on luxury items most hard working families can’t afford. Once HMRC began to investigate the couples’ financial affairs there was nowhere to hide, and what the Taylors thought was a clever way of moving and hiding money soon unravelled.”

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HMRC officers discovered that the couple, who claimed to be separated for the duration of the fraud, had spent around two years buying luxury items. They bought expensive cars and motorbikes, took numerous holidays, and on a daily basis bought designer jewellery and handbags. The pair even used the cash to pay someone to walk their dog each day.

Craig Taylor, 43, set up Avalon Construction in 2006 with his wife Tracy, 42, acting as company secretary. He reclaimed almost £600,000 in VAT payments after the company was wound up in 2009. He submitted another claim for £79,000 in 2011, almost two years after the company ceased trading, but dropped this when it was challenged by HMRC.

To get money out of the business the pair often paid themselves tens of thousands of pounds each week in salary and then moved the money around a network of personal bank accounts to try and make it appear legitimate.

When HMRC officers arrived to arrest the Taylors, Tracey maintained she was single and did not know the whereabouts of her ‘estranged’ husband. Craig Taylor was found hiding in the couple’s en-suite bathroom. The couple later pleaded guilty to charges of VAT fraud and money laundering at Sheffield Crown Court.

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