Music tuner’s VAT fraud falls flat

A Somerset company boss, who fraudulently reclaimed more than £230,000 of VAT, has been jailed for two years following an HMRC investigation

Richard Whittall, from Minehead, was a supplier of precision tuners for stringed instruments and a director of Self Tune Systems Ltd and Clair Price Trading Ltd. When his business started to struggle, he began conducting tax fraud. Between 2012 and 2015 he made dozens fraudulent VAT repayment claims totaling £233,142.

At Taunton Crown Court Whittall pleaded guilty to being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of VAT, contrary to section 72 of the VAT Act 1994, and was subsequently sentenced to two years in jail.

Richard Wilkinson, assistant director, fraud investigation service, HMRC, said: ‘When we pay tax, we expect it to go towards paying for vital public services, not to line the pockets of unscrupulous traders. Whittall knew he was breaking the law but thought he could get away with ripping off honest taxpayers.’

Confiscation proceedings are underway.

Report by Pat Sweet

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