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Amended 22/08/13 - VAT fraud gang crushed

Press Release   •   Jul 29, 2013 16:02 BST

Seventeen people have been sentenced for a £2.3 million VAT repayment fraud using the sale of fictitious concrete crushing machines to fund extravagant lifestyles.

The gang, masterminded by Paul Hackney from Stoke-on-Trent, set up a string of companies to steal money from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) so that they could buy high performance cars, expensive jewellery and exotic holidays at the taxpayer’s expense.

Adrian Farley, Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation for HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), said:

“They thought their plan would go undetected because they had created such a complex paper trail – but they were wrong. We will unravel even the most complex cases of fraud and bring those responsible before the courts so justice can be served.”

The group fabricated transactions and sales of construction equipment. They produced fake invoices and paperwork to try and make their companies look like legitimate traders to reclaim VAT on sales and exports. They did not pay any VAT as the ‘goods’ didn’t exist.

The defendants, three women and 14 men from Staffordshire, the North West and Essex were arrested by HMRC officers between February 2010 and November 2010 after an extensive investigation into their criminal activities.  During the investigation, searches were carried out at residential and business properties in Staffordshire, Cheshire, Manchester and Suffolk. Officers seized bank accounts and computers along with cash, CS spray and an imitation firearm.

Notes to Editors

1.  Photographs of the defendants are available on request or from HMRC’s Flickr site www.flickr.com/hmrcgovuk

2.  Reporting restrictions have been in place throughout two trials and have now been lifted on sentencing of the final defendants.

3.  Details of the defendants sentenced today (29 July 2013) at Manchester Crown Court, along with those previously sentenced in 2012 and 2013 are as follows:

Staffordshire

·  Paul Hackney (DOB 20.07.76) of Brookfield Road, Baddeley Green, Stoke on Trent, pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to cheat the revenue and was sentenced on 9 October 2012 to six years in prison, reduced on appeal to five years and three months. He was disqualified from holding a company directorship for 10 years.

·  Robert Hackney (DOB 04.08.87) of Brookfield Road, Baddeley Green, Stoke on Trent, pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to cheat the revenue and was sentenced on 23 July 2013 to two years and four months in prison. He was disqualified from holding a company directorship for three years.

·  Diane Susan Hackney (DOB 16.01.73) of Bladon Crescent, Alsager, Stoke-on-Trent, pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to cheat the revenue and was sentenced on 23 July 2013 to two years in prison suspended for two years, and ordered to carry of 200 hours of community service.  She was disqualified from holding a company directorship for three years.

·  Andrew John Plant (19.09.68) of High Street, Talke Pits, Stoke-on-Trent, pleaded guilty to Furnishing a false document under the VAT Act 1994 and was sentenced on 9 October 2012 to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years with supervision. He was disqualified from holding a company directorship for five years.

·  Ghent Paul Wakefield (DOB 28.05.81) of Stoke-on-Trent, was found guilty of Conspiracy to cheat the revenue and sentenced on 22 March 2013 to 17 months in prison.

·  Dean Antony Benson, (DOB 20.01.64), of Heathcote Road, Longton, Stoke on Trent, pleaded guilty to VAT fraud was sentenced on 18 January 2013 to eight months in prison.

North West

·  Garry John Hicks, (31.07.49), of Platt Avenue, Sandbach, Cheshire, pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to cheat the revenue and was sentenced on 29 July 2013 to two years in prison. He was disqualified from holding a company directorship for three years.

·  Gary Nicholas Richards (DOB 01.09.65) of Crewe Road, Sandbach, Cheshire, pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to cheat the revenue and was sentenced on 29 July 2013 to 16 months, suspended for 12 months and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work. He was disqualified from holding a company directorship for three years.

·  Louis John Barta (DOB 03.04.86) of Whitchurch Road, Nantwich, Cheshire, pleaded guilty to VAT fraud and was sentenced on 10April 2013 to 32 weeks, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work.

·  Joanne Lesley Richards (DOB 22.09.72) of Crewe Road, Sandbach, Cheshire, was found guilty of Conspiracy to launder the proceeds of criminal property and sentenced on 29 July 2013 to 12 month community order and ordered to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work. She was disqualified from holding a company directorship for two years.

·  Mark Robert Allen (DOB 29.03.67) of Anglesey Drive, Poynton, Stockport, pleaded guilty to VAT fraud was sentenced on 19 February 2013 to seven months in prison, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work. He was disqualified from holding a company directorship for three years.

·  Russell Terence Bateman (DOB 09.04.79) of Platt Avenue, Sandbach, Cheshire, pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to cheat the revenue and was sentenced on 9 October 2012 to 10 months in prison, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to carry out 180 hours of unpaid work. He was disqualified from holding a company directorship for three years.

·  David Vincent Bennett (DOB 16.04.70) of Anglesey Drive, Poynton, Stockport, pleaded guilty to VAT fraud and was sentenced on 19 February 2013 to seven months in prison, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work. He was disqualified from holding a company directorship for three years.

·  Gavin Geoffrey Parkes (DOB 04.12.63) of Manor Drive, Barnton, Northwich, Cheshire, pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to cheat the revenue and was sentenced on 18 January 2013 to 21 months in prison. He was disqualified from holding a company directorship for four years.

·  Peter Stanier (DOB 06.09.69) of Thistleton Close, Macclesfield, pleaded guilty to Furnishing false information under the VAT Act 1994 and was sentenced on 20 February 2013 to 13 months in prison, suspended for 18 months and ordered to carry out 180 hours of unpaid work. He was disqualified from holding a company directorship for three years.

Essex

·  Simon John Hicks (DOB 15.07.70) of Oakpitt Cottages, Harbourgh Hall Lane, Messing, Colchester, pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to cheat the revenue and was sentenced on 23 July 2013 to four years and three months in prison. He was disqualified from holding a company directorship for seven years.

·  Maxine Tracey Hicks (DOB 23.04.68) of Oakpitt Cottages, Harbourgh Hall Lane, Messing, Colchester, pleaded guilty to Converting criminal property under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and was sentenced on 23 July 2013 to 12 months in prison, suspended for 12 months, and given a six months supervisions order. She was disqualified from holding a company directorship for two years.

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.