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Accountant’s tax gamble backfires

Press Release   •   Aug 20, 2015 15:20 BST

A West Midlands accountant, who funded her gambling habit by submitting false Self Assessment claims worth £296,000 on behalf of her unsuspecting clients, has been jailed.

An investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) revealed Gail Henshall, from Wolverhampton, had submitted false claims on behalf of almost 200 people - generating huge repayments which she then gambled away.

Between March 2008 and January 2014 Henshall, 48, received multiple tax refunds and then passed many of these into an account controlled by her friend, Mario Troisi. Troisi, 52, subsequently transferred the cash back into Henshall’s various online betting accounts. He was also jailed for his part in the fraud.

Richard Wentel, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:

“Henshall’s clients were paying for a service to help keep their own tax affairs in order but she was abusing her position to steal hundreds of thousands of pounds, using their details as a smokescreen. She was despicably using money that should be funding vital public services to feed her gambling habit.

“Troisi played an instrumental part in her scam, as he laundered the money which Henshall then gambled away. Now they are both paying the price, losing their reputation and freedom.”

Henshall submitted legitimate repayment claims on behalf of her clients - passing the money on to them. But she would then amend returns and resubmit, without their knowledge, to increase the repayment amounts - but keeping the extra cash that was paid by HMRC. In an attempt to cover her tracks she also altered clients’ personal details such as their address.

Henshall and Troisi were each sentenced to 32 months in prison when they appeared at Warwick Crown Court today.

Notes for editors

1. Gail Henshall, DOB 18/09/1966, Hawkswell Drive, Willenhall, Wolverhampton, West Midlands, pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud at Wolverhampton Crown Court on 2 January 2015. She was sentenced to 32 months in prison at Warwick Crown Court today.

2. Mario Troisi, DOB 24/04/1963, of St Arvans Road, Cwmbran, Torfaen, Wales, pleaded not guilty to money laundering but was found guilty on Wednesday 8 July 2015 after a trial at Wolverhampton Crown Court. He was sentenced to 32 months in prison at Warwick Crown Court today.

3. Anyone with information about people who may be involved in tax fraud can contact the Tax Evasion Hotline on 0800 788 887.

4. Follow HMRC Press Office on Twitter @HMRCpressoffice

5. HMRC’s Flickr channel: www.flickr.com/hmrcgovuk

Issued by HM Revenue & Customs Press Office

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is the UK’s tax authority.

HMRC is responsible for making sure that the money is available to fund the UK’s public services and for helping families and individuals with targeted financial support.