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Fraudster Inverness businessman falsely claimed £36.5k VAT repayments

By Ali Morrison

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Sheriff Ian Cruickshank heard the case at Inverness Sheriff Court.
Sheriff Ian Cruickshank heard the case at Inverness Sheriff Court.

An Inverness businessman who fraudulently evaded VAT amounting to £36,514 will be sentenced next month.

Agricultural contractor Ian Miller, who was employed by MGM Timber and registered as a sole trader, appeared at Inverness Sheriff Court and admitted the fraud by submitting false VAT returns.

Sentence was deferred until December 11 for a background report and Miller's bail was continued.

Fiscal depute Robert Weir told Sheriff Ian Cruickshank that an HMRC officer conducted a VAT compliance visit at Miller's home address in Towerhill Road, Cradlehall on January 13, 2020 as the value of his repayments had remained fairly constant over several years.

Mr Weir said: "This is a risk indicator for HMRC. From January 2014 to July 2019, the accused had received £43,264.95 in VAT repayments from HMRC and now accepts £36,514 is falsely claimed.

"During the visit, he provided his purchase records, sales records and a business bank statement to HMRC. Initial inspection identified that the invoices supplied were copies, some with formatting and spelling errors and were suspected to be false.

"When questioned, he admitted to creating and providing false invoices to help substantiate his claims for input tax but insisted his VAT repayment claims had been correct, and he had misplaced the originals."

The court heard that investigation of Miller's bank accounts did not show any of the purchases he claimed to have made and no receipt of payment for any work the accused claimed to have carried out was shown on any bank statements. His VAT record book also had incorrect invoice numbers and were not in chronological order.

"The case was passed to HMRC Fraud Investigation Services for a criminal investigation," Mr Weir added. "During an interview by HMRC officers, he claimed that a friend helped him create fake invoices.

"He eventually admitted that he had not done any agricultural work at all since January 2014, that he had created false paperwork to provide to HMRC at the compliance visit and he had received VAT repayments from HMRC which he was not entitled to from 2014 onwards."

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