A former council employee from Manchester, who pretended to carry out building works for the local authority in a £1m fake invoicing fraud, has been jailed for seven and half years after an investigation by HMRC
Stephen Crewdson, who was a contracts manager at the authority, was convicted of fraud and money laundering after charging Lancashire County Council (LCC) for bogus construction work over five years, between July 2007 and December 2012.
He arranged for building suppliers to bill the council for work that never existed. Money paid to the builders was then laundered through various bank accounts back to Crewdson.
In 2011, when HMRC investigators began to check suspicious transactions, Crewdson created his own fake business, BBM ENG Ltd, registered it for VAT via an accountant and attempted to justify further fake invoices and fraudulent VAT returns to disguise his crimes.
Crewdson received a total of £873,158.40 into his personal bank account and his BBM business bank account, which originated from the council and was laundered through various accounts to evade detection. The court was told he spent the money on an Aston Martin and other luxury items and holidays.
The judge at the trial at Preston Crown Court said of Crewdson: ‘You have been convicted on most overwhelming evidence and your brazen lies. You were in breach of trust at LCC and of the public of Lancashire. You have used two local businesses, generated bogus invoices and tried to cover your tracks. The people of this county, taxpayers, are your victims and all to satisfy your greed.’
Crewdson will now face legal action to recover the money.
Sandra Smith, assistant director, fraud investigation service, HMRC, said: ‘As a council employee, Crewdson was in a privileged position approving supplier’s invoices. He abused this position of trust and was well aware that he was breaking the law.’
An LCC spokesperson said: ‘We are pleased with the verdict and that this matter has been resolved. The county council takes fraud extremely seriously and we have worked closely with the police and HMRC to help bring this successful prosecution.’