Rogue HMRC fraud investigator jailed

A former HMRC criminal investigator from Birmingham, who tipped off his friends who were involved in a VAT scam that had been uncovered, has been jailed for 12 months

Richard Barr was convicted of abusing his position within HMRC, for warning two Birmingham friends - Darren Oliver and Wayne Cockerill - of their impending arrest. Barr knew searches would take place and told the pair to destroy or hide evidence.

Oliver and Cockerill pleaded guilty to a £557,000 VAT fraud in March 2013 after an investigation codenamed Operation Ladderback was conducted by HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service (FIS).

Barr’s criminal involvement with Oliver and Cockerill only emerged in late 2012 during the proceedings being taken against them. HMRC’s internal governance team began an investigation and Barr was arrested in December 2012. He had already been dismissed from his post at HMRC in October 2012 following disciplinary action and not in relation to this matter.

Joff Parsons, head of internal governance criminal investigations, HMRC, said: ‘As a criminal investigator, Richard Barr was expected to act with absolute honesty and integrity. Instead, he despicably abused his position. His actions were a gross abuse of the public’s trust.’

Barr had denied the charges against him but was found guilty of Misconduct in Public Office after a trial at Manchester Crown Court in January 2015.He has now been given a 12 month prison sentence.

In sentencing Barr, Judge Atherton said: ‘During the time you were an HMRC officer you became aware of the over half a million pound fraud perpetrated by good friends. You tipped them off and provided guidance and advice which they followed.

‘As a former Police and Customs Officer you know the public expect a high level of integrity, and confidentiality is of prime importance. Your previous good character does not count.’

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Pat Sweet |Reporter, Accountancy Daily [2010-2021]

Pat Sweet was the former online reporter at Accountancy Daily and contributor to the monthly Accountancy magazine, pub...

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