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Accountant jailed for £11m tax fraud

01 July 2010
Categories: News
Adviser made false expenses claims on SA returns

A London-based accountant has been jailed for eight years for stealing £11 million in income tax and VAT.

Christos Charalambous of Palmers Green completed more than 6,000 fraudulent self assessment returns, which included fictitious expenses claims designed to increase tax repayments due to clients – many of whom were from other EU countries and had little understanding of the UK tax system.

He also falsified his own returns by understating the income he received from fees, and he and failed to register, declare and pay VAT due on his accountancy firm, Charltons.

Blackfriars Crown Court heard how Mr Charalambous submitted tax returns for his clients to the Revenue without showing them what information he was including. He would then receive the repayments from the taxman, deduct a minimum of 15% fee and repay the remainder to his clients, who would not question the amount refunded because they trusted him to complete their returns correctly.

The total amount of repayment claimed by Mr Charalambous on his clients’ behalf was £11,222,472. Between 1997/98 and 2004/05, he understated client fee income on his own self assessment returns by £807,406, and he failed to declare and pay £180,082 VAT due to HMRC.

While the total tax fraudulently claimed or undeclared amounted to more than £12 million, Mr Charalambous had succeeded in stealing around £11 million before HMRC uncovered his crimes.

He was found guilty on six counts of cheating the public purse, following a seven-week trial.

On passing sentence, Judge Richardson said, ‘The offences are more serious as you were a chartered accountant. HMRC ought to be able to trust you as should your clients. You exposed them to the dishonesty that you practice. With tax enquiries, you responded with evasion and lies.’ 

Categories: News
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