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Tradesmen sentenced in £300k tax fraud

Press Release   •   Feb 24, 2017 12:07 GMT

James Lee Roberts jailed for tax fraud

Nine construction industry tradesmen, from Widnes and Liverpool, have been sentenced for trying to steal £300,000 in an organised tax fraud. The men, who had mainly worked as subcontractors including painters, decorators, builders, and roofers, submitted false claims for tax repayments.

James Roberts, of Widnes, was at the centre of the conspiracy, which was uncovered by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigators. He was found to have made multiple fraudulent amendments to his own tax returns and allowed his bank account to be used by other members of the gang.

Roberts’ partner, Natasha Sinnott, 22, of Bootle, helped the fraudsters by allowing the stolen taxes to be laundered through her bank account.

The fraud was uncovered by the Income Tax Self-Assessment Repayments Taskforce which targets individuals who submit false Income Tax Self Assessment claims. The false claims were made under the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS).

HMRC withheld the majority of the tax repayments when suspicious activity was detected and will now look to recover any remaining stolen tax using civil and criminal proceedings.

Those sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court on 20 February were:

- James Lee Roberts, 27, of Widnes, jailed for three years.

- Steven Peter Jones, 28, of Widnes - eight months jail suspended for two years.

- Stephen Edwards, 32, of Widnes - 10 months jail suspended for two years.

- Patrick Molyneux, 31, of Maghull - 11 months jail suspended for two years.

- Kieran Rigby, 28, of Widnes - eight months jail suspended for two years.

- Stephen Yemm, 34, of Widnes - nine months jail suspended for two years.

- Gregg Carter, 26, of Widnes - four months jail suspended for two years.

- Ashley Hughes, 26, of Widnes - 11 months jail suspended for two years.

- Scott Keegan, 27, of Widnes – five months jail suspended for two years.

- Natasha Sinnott, 22 of Bootle, sentenced to four months jail suspended for 12 months for money laundering on behalf of others in the fraud.

Two other men are due to be sentenced next week - James Rutherford, 31, of Kirkby, and Vincent Mccluskie, 45, of Seaforth.

Notes for Editors

1.The men below all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to fraudulently evade income tax, contrary to S1(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977 at Liverpool Crown Court.

-James Lee Roberts, dob 08/12/89, unemployed, of French Street, Widnes, Cheshire, attempted to steal £46,986.80 for the tax years 2013/14 and 2014/15. He made multiple amendments to his tax returns claiming to work in construction and used Natasha Sinnott’s bank account to launder some of the repayments. HMRC withheld several of the repayments due to the suspicious nature of his claims.

-Steven Peter Jones, dob 27/08/88, a subcontractor, of Swinford Avenue, Widnes, Cheshire, attempted to steal £26,170 for the tax year 2013/14. At first he tried to have the repayments paid into Natasha Sinnott’s bank account, HMRC withheld the repayments, he then changed the bank destination to his own account. HMRC withheld all the repayments again.

-Stephen Edwards, dob 21/01/84, a subcontractor, of Brandon, Widnes, Cheshire, attempted to steal £22,672.01 for the tax years 2012/13, 2013/14 and 2014/15. He sometimes used the bank accounts of others including Sinnott. HMRC withheld over £15,322 after suspicions were raised.

-Patrick Molyneux, dob 23/08/85, a subcontractor, of Beechway, Maghull, Liverpool, attempted to steal £45,456.47 for the tax year 2013/14 by making five false amendments to his online tax return. HMRC withheld £25,711.

-Kieran Rigby, dob 25/12/88, of French Street, Widnes, Cheshire, attempted to steal £14,685. Rigby made six fraudulent amendments to his 2013/14 tax return, nominating James Roberts’ bank account for the repayments on some. HMRC withheld all the repayments.

-Stephen Yemm, dob 18/06/82, a self-employed roofer, of Cunningham Road, Widnes, Cheshire, attempted to steal £15,086.71 for the tax years 2012/13, 2013/14 and 2014/15. HMRC withheld £5,865.14.

-Gregg Carter, dob 18/07/90, of Davies Close, Widnes, Cheshire, attempted to steal £12,266 for the tax year 2012/13. HMRC withheld £8,000 from his two fraudulent repayment claims. Carter was self employed and stated he did groundwork.

-Ashley Hughes, dob 30/08/1990, a subcontractor, of Lytham Road, Widnes, Cheshire, attempted to steal £10,565 for the 2014/15 tax year. He had previously failed to submit two tax returns on time and had paid penalties. HMRC withheld all of the £10,565 repayment generated by his fraudulent claims. Hughes claimed to be self employed doing groundwork.

-Scott Keegan, dob 05/01/89, a contractor, of Lancaster Road, Widnes, Cheshire, attempted to steal £29,439 for the tax years 2013/14 and 2014/15. Initially some repayments were made to Keegan but then HMRC withheld £18,871.54 he had nominated to be paid direct to James Roberts. Keegan stated he was a painter and decorator.

2.Natasha Sinnott, dob 12/03/94, unemployed, of O’Neill Street, Bootle, Liverpool, pleaded guilty to money laundering contrary to S328(1) of the Proceeds Of Crime Act 2002. Between April and August 2014, £37,754 passed through her bank account on behalf of Roberts in the fraud. HMRC withheld a further £43,055 destined for her bank account from others in the case. Sinnott was Robert’s partner at the time of the fraud.

3.Those to be sentenced on 27 February:

  • -James Rutherford, dob 01/03/85, a subcontractor, of Brookbank Court, Kirkby, Liverpool, attempted to steal £31,397.07 for the tax years 2012/13, 2013/14, and 2014/15. HMRC withheld £27,591 from these repayment claims.

-Vincent McCluskie, dob 03/12/71, a subcontractor, of Ash Grove, Seaforth, Liverpool, attempted to steal £22,035 for the tax year 2013/14. McCluskie nominated all payments to be made to James Roberts on his tax returns. HMRC withheld all these fraudulent repayments.

4.Under the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS), contractors deduct money from a subcontractor’s payments and pass it to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). The deductions count as advance payments towards the subcontractor’s tax and National Insurance.

5.HMRC taskforces target specific high-risk sectors where there is a risk that some are not paying the tax they owe. Since taskforces began in May 2011, more than 140 taskforces have been launched, bringing in more than £540 million.

6.Taskforces bring together various HMRC compliance and enforcement teams for intensive bursts of activity targeted at specific sectors and locations where there is evidence of high risk of tax evasion and fraud. The teams visit traders to examine their records and carry out other investigations.

7.Anyone with information regarding fraud is encouraged to contact the 24-hour Hotline on 0800 59 5000 or report it online via: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/reportingfraud/online.htm

8.Follow HMRC’s Press Office on Twitter @hmrcpressoffice

9.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.