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Ex-councillor jailed for tax fraud

Press Release   •   Dec 24, 2013 10:04 GMT

A Bradford accountant and former city councillor, who defrauded his clients to steal more than £100,000 in Income Tax and VAT, has been jailed after an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Robert John Payne, 34, who served as an elected councillor for Bradford City Council, set himself up as an accountant in 2001 despite having no formal qualifications. He manipulated his unsuspecting clients’ accounts to falsely represent their financial affairs, faking documents to reclaim VAT and Income Tax payments, which he then kept for himself. He also set up a variety of companies in his own name just to facilitate his fraud.

Jo Tyler, Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation, HMRC, said:

“Robert Payne has held positions of trust in the Bradford community, including that of a local councillor. He quite clearly knows the difference between right and wrong and committed this fraud purely for personal gain. Our investigation led us to believe that Payne’s accountancy business was set up solely as a ruse to steal money from his unsuspecting staff, clients and taxpayers.

“Tax fraud is a serious crime and is treated as such by the justice system. Payne’s sentence sends out a clear message to those who think it is acceptable to submit fraudulent tax claims or who shirk their taxpaying responsibilities.”

Payne was arrested by HMRC officers in March 2011. He had declared that almost all of his clients were operating at a financial loss, and were entitled to tax refunds, but the investigation found that the majority had actually been making a profit.

Payne produced fake invoices and VAT records to support his tax refund claims and even continued whilst serving a prison sentence for an unrelated offence, by duping a friend into making VAT claims on his behalf. When HMRC refused to pay out what was suspected to be a fraudulent claim, Payne threatened the department with the intervention of his local MP, in an attempt to push the payment through.  

Payne was charged at Bradford Magistrates Court on 21 August 2013 with three counts of tax fraud and three counts of acting as a company director whilst disqualified. He pleaded guilty to the charges on 4 November 2013 and was sentenced to two years in prison and disqualified from being a company director for six years yesterday (23 December 2013) at Bradford Crown Court.

 Notes for editors

1. Defendants details

Robert John Payne, DOB 14/02/1979, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to three counts of tax fraud and three counts of acting as a company director whilst disqualified. He was sentenced to two years in prison and disqualified from being a company director for six years.

2.  Follow HMRC on Twitter @HMRCgovuk

3.  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.