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TAXMAN MAR 2018

24 VAT FRAUD IS A GLOBAL

24 VAT FRAUD IS A GLOBAL MENACE By Alexander Robertson Editor’s note- Story was first published in the Daily Mail a UK based on line news out let. Businessman who masterminded a £9.8m VAT fraud to fund lavish lifestyle of supercars, speedboat and a huge property empire including luxury Spanish home is jailed for nine years • Jason Butler created hundreds of false invoices to steal millions of pounds in VAT • Butler used the money to buy a Marbella villa, a speedboat and several supercars • He was arrested at Manchester International Airport after an investigation by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs HMRC • Butler was found guilty at Leeds Crown Court of VAT fraud and given nine years in jail A businessman who masterminded a £9.8million international tax fraud to fund his lavish lifestyle of flash cars and a luxury Spanish home has been jailed for nine years. Fraudster Jason Butler, 46, created hundreds of false invoices to steal millions of pounds in VAT. He then tried to hide the scam in a complex trading chain involving companies in the UK, Gibraltar, Spain and the US, a HMRC investigation revealed. Butler, who now lives in Spain, told HMRC officers he bought almost £60million worth of personal data, but checks revealed this was a lie. In reality Butler was forging invoices to falsely reclaim VAT and trading very cheap raw data through a complex international supply chain in a bid to hide his crimes. Butler used money from the fraud to fund his collection of supercars including; Ferrari Fiorano FI, Ferrari 360, Mercedes SL350, and a Lamborghini Murcielago. He also owned a Rolls Royce Silver Shadow, speedboat, a luxurious Spanish home in Marbella and 96 properties in Leeds. He was arrested by police at Manchester International Airport when he arrived into the UK from Malaga on 18 January, 2015. Butler was found guilty at Leeds Crown Court of VAT fraud after a trial and was sentenced to nine years in prison. In 2003, the Yorkshire Post newspaper interviewed Butler, then a successful 31-year-old entrepreneur who had set up a property business at the age of 22. Butler claimed he planned to retire by the age of 35, and set out his ambition of eventually opening 80 branches of Jump across the UK. He boasted: ‘There are some things you are born with. Fast cars are in my blood. I have been driving my parents mad about them since I was two. ‘I would like to retire by the time I’m 35. I’m a big believer in goal-setting. I’ll do something in property... or possibly selling high-class, expensive Ferraris to high net-worth individuals. But whatever I do, I would like to do it at my leisure.’

25 Jason Butler (pictured) created hundreds of fake invoices to steal millions of pounds Butler controlled a company called Multi Level Media (MLM), based at Britannia House in Leeds. He said he bought and sold valuable Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) customer data from nine UK companies via an international agency which he also controlled, between November 2011 and January 2015. However, checks with the companies revealed that no trade ever took place and Butler had created hundreds of phony invoices. Butler was found guilty at Leeds Crown Court of VAT fraud after a trial and was sentenced to nine years in prison Butler was found guilty at Leeds Crown Court of VAT fraud after a trial and was sentenced to nine years in prison (pictured is another of his Ferrari supercars) Instead he was buying and selling cheap raw data to a series of firms in the UK, who then sold it to a respectable data company in Gibraltar. The data was sold by them to a company in the US, which was also controlled by Butler. Each step of the transaction chain was arranged and controlled by Butler. He created this series of transactions to try and hide his fraud by involving several companies, some of which had an established tax history with HMRC. On paper it appeared the fraudster had paid substantial amounts of VAT. But the purchases were fake and backed up by forged invoices, which he used to falsely reclaim £9,875,806 in VAT. HMRC fraud director Eden Noblett said: ‘Butler thought he was clever and his scam too sophisticated to be uncovered. But, he was not as clever as he believed. ‘This was a complex fraud involving offshore companies and moving money internationally. ‘This case serves as a warning to anyone considering stealing taxpayer’s money. No matter how clever and sophisticated you think your fraud is, we will catch you. ‘Tax fraud takes money away from the vital public services we all use. Butler stole enough money to pay for more than 500 new NHS nurses. ‘We will not allow anyone to steal funding from our schools and hospitals.

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