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College principal sentenced for tax fraud and ordered to repay profits

Press Release   •   Feb 10, 2016 13:57 GMT

A college principal who failed to declare the money he made from renting out properties has been sentenced for evading Income Tax. He was also ordered to repay £283,886.47 within three months, or face three years behind bars.

Macdonald Abamba, 57, was convicted after an HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigation into his tax affairs revealed he had not declared his income made from renting out 10 properties in Lewisham, Bromley and Croydon, equating to £216,260 in unpaid Income Tax.

Instead he used the tax he should have paid to purchase more properties in the UK and Dubai, and land in Ghana and Nigeria.

HMRC uncovered the fraud as part of a clampdown on property owners and landlords trying to avoid paying tax. Initially, Abamba was offered the opportunity to pay what he owed in full alongside any interest and penalties due, through HMRCs civil Contractual Disclosure Facility route. However, he ignored this chance, failed to engage and as a result, HMRC began a criminal investigation in to his tax affairs. He was later charged with cheating the public revenue, contrary to common law.

John Cooper, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:

“Abamba should have done the right thing by declaring this income. He was given the opportunity to come clean and pay what he owed but he chose to ignore it. He now has a criminal record, has ruined his reputation and must rightfully repay the money he stole, plus interest, within three months or face real jail time.

“The majority of us pay the tax that’s due, when it’s due and it is unfair that people like Abamba think they have the right to steal money that is needed to fund vital public services.

“We know that some landlords are unsure of their tax liabilities which is why we launched the Let Property campaign but this man clearly knew what he was doing and continued anyway.

“HMRC will not tolerate tax fraud and will investigate those we suspect of not abiding by the law. I urge anyone with information about people suspected of committing tax fraud to contact our Hotline on 0800 59 5000.”

Between April 1997 and April 2012, and in addition to his day-job as a college principal, Abamba rented out properties, none of this rental income was declared to HMRC.

On 4 January 2016, Abamba confessed to tax fraud. He was sentenced yesterday (9 February 2016) at Croydon Crown Court to two years in prison, suspended for two years, ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and pay £1,500 in costs.

A confiscation order was also made for the full £283,886.47, to be paid in full, within three months or face a default sentence of three years.

Notes for editors

  1. Macdonald Ogochukwu Abamba, DOB 24/02/58, of West Way, Carshalton, Greater London, a property landlord and principal of the School of Computing and Business Studies, London, pleaded guilty to tax evasion.
  2. Anyone with information about people or businesses involved in tax fraud can contact our Hotline on 0800 59 5000 or report it online at:http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/reportingfraud/online.htm
  3. HMRC have a range of tools available to deal with tax evasion, and criminal prosecution is just one of those tools used for the most serious cases. The Contractual Disclosure Facility (CDF) is an opportunity to tell HMRC about tax fraud. More information can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/admitting-tax-fraud-the-contractual-disclosure-facility-cdf
  4. HMRC’s Flickr channel: www.flickr.com/hmrcgovuk
  5. Follow HMRC’s Press Office on Twitter @HMRCpressoffice

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.