William Batchelor, 61, was arrested on arrival at Luton Airport in November 2010 just before he was due to board a flight back to Monaco. He had learnt that HMRC was investigating fraudulent VAT repayment claims relating to his property company JCV Properties Ltd, which he had used to finance his extravagant Monaco lifestyle of luxury apartments and classic cars.
Croydon Crown Court heard that after an HMRC investigation began, Batchelor confessed to the fraud to his accountant, who was not involved in the fraud. This involved a number of false VAT repayment claims, involving the creation of bogus invoices claiming to be for the purchase of land. Despite Batchelor telling his accountant ‘the game is up”, attempts by HMRC to arrange a meeting with him to discuss his tax affairs were not successful.
HMRC discovered that the suspect planned to return to Monaco, and had booked a flight out of the UK to Nice in the south of France. However, HMRC officers arrested Batchelor before he could board his flight and he was later charged with VAT fraud.
Martin Brown, Assistant Director, HMRC Criminal Investigation said:
“William Batchelor used false invoices to cheat honest taxpayers out of £673,000. He used the proceeds of that crime to fund his Monaco lifestyle which included a vintage Mercedes car worth over £100,000. HMRC was determined that he should remain in the UK to face our investigation.
“Anyone tempted to cheat the VAT system should beware; we are investing more time and resources than ever to identify tax cheats and bring them to justice.”
After initially pleading not guilty, he claimed that he had been targeted by “mobsters” demanding cash and that this had forced him into the VAT fraud. However, these claims were rejected by the court as there was no evidence that the money fraudulently claimed from HMRC was ever paid to any third party. Batchelor subsequently pleaded guilty. He returned to Croydon Crown Court for sentencing today.
Confiscation action to recover the proceeds of Batchelor’s crimes is now underway and assets have been restrained.
Notes to editors
1. Defendant’s details: William Batchelor, formerly of Les Acantes, Avanue Des Citronniers, Monte Carlo, Monaco. D.O.B 04/02/1951. While awaiting sentence, Batchelor’s address was 175 Burrage Road, London SE18.
2. Batchelor was charged with obtaining fraudulent VAT repayments totalling £673,343.77 over a two year period from August 2008 to October 2010.
3. Images are available on HMRC’s flickr channel www.flickr.com/hmrcgovuk
4. Follow HMRC on Twitter @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.