Jail for VAT fraudster

A South Wales businessman who fabricated invoices for construction work so he could fraudulently claim £163,000 VAT refunds has been jailed for 13 months. Stephen Wright, 50, from Llanblethian, Cowbridge, was the owner of SJ Wright in August 2012, when he submitted invoices to support a VAT repayment claim for £57,000. The invoices, from Lex Facilities & Construction Management Ltd, billed SJ Wright for office refurbishment allegedly carried out in 2008.

Investigations by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) showed that the work had actually been done in 2006 – outside the four-year time limit allowed for VAT repayment claims. It was also discovered that Wright was sole director of Lex Facilities & Construction Management Ltd and the company hadn’t carried out the refurbishment work for SJ Wright.

During the investigation it was found that Wright had also submitted false invoices in 2006, in order to reclaim £106,000 VAT, to which he also was not entitled.

Colin Spinks, assistant director for criminal investigation at HMRC, said: “Wright falsified invoices to reclaim VAT he wasn’t entitled to, but HMRC’s checks ensured that he couldn’t. We are investing more time and effort than ever into tracking down those who attempt to rip off public services while they line their own pockets by claiming more than they are legally entitled to.”

Wright was given the opportunity to provide proof that the refurbishment work had been carried out in 2008, but was unable to do so.

Wright pleaded guilty to VAT fraud and has 28 days to repay the proceeds of his crime with interest and costs. He was sentenced to 13 months imprisonment at Merthyr Crown Court on 13th May 2015.