Thurrock businessman escapes jail after £150k VAT fraud

A THURROCK businessman has escaped jail after being given a suspended sentence for VAT fraud but £135,000 hidden at his home has been confiscated by the authorities.

Flooring firm director Wayne Larry Poole (right), 44, of Hope Terrace, Mill Lane, Grays, attempted to steal almost £150,000 in a fraud by fiddling his business records and using a fake VAT number.

He has been sentenced to two years imprisonment, suspended for two years, at Lewes Crown Court.

Poole was arrested by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigators in June 2013 during a search of his home. They found a second set of business records showing different sales figures to those on his VAT returns and £135,000 in cash hidden in an airing cupboard.

Further investigations revealed that Poole used a fake VAT registration number on his invoices to avoid paying the full amount of tax, but lied to officers claiming it was just a clerical error. He claimed the cash in the airing cupboard was the winnings from gambling in London casinos. Investigations proved this was another lie.

The fraud took place from 1 January 2010 to 31 December 2012. Assistant Director David Margree of the Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “Poole blatantly spun a web of lies in an attempt to hide the true extent of his fraud. He was greedy, using the money to line his own pockets and giving himself an unfair advantage over his competitors.

“He will now pay the price for his fraudulent activity – he will have a criminal record and we will seek to recover the profits Poole made from his crimes.”

Cash found at his home was seized under the provisions of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and was ordered forfeit to HMRC on 13 October 2015 by the City of London Magistrates Court.

Poole ran two businesses based at Thurrock Parkway Estate, Tilbury, one registered for VAT and the second unregistered.

Poole also had another flooring business trading from an industrial estate in Stone in Staffordshire. He admitted not registering this business for VAT, claiming that it was an omission but not fraud.

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