Haulier sentenced for £9K VAT fraud

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A Wakefield haulier who claimed that invoices used to support a bogus £9,200 VAT repayment had been ‘accidentally burnt’ has avoided jail.

Darran Austin, 49, of Handsworth Road, submitted a VAT return to HMRC that appeared to show he had spent more than £46,000 on diesel in January and February 2014 - enabling him to reclaim the VAT he had ‘paid’.

But a HMRC investigation discovered one of the invoices was fake, and Austin, the owner of Wakefield-based ZSD Transport, was asked to provide the remaining five.

However, the businessman told investigators they had been ‘accidentally burnt’ following a clear-out of his office.

During interview, Austin insisted the purchases were genuine, adding that a man known only to him as ‘Johnny’ would arrive unannounced and fill the vehicles’ tanks with diesel.

Austin was found guilty of the fraudulent evasion of VAT following a trial at Wakefield Magistrates’ Court in March and sentenced to 11 weeks in prison, suspended for six months. He was also fined £2,400.

The repayment is being recovered by HMRC.