Tax adviser’s jail sentence bumped up for £150k fraud

A self-appointed tax adviser has been jailed for a further four and a half years after committing a £150,000 tax fraud while living in Spain, despite being handed a six year sentence in February 2017 for failing to repay £1.3m to HMRC

South African Leib Berger, also known as Lawrence Goldberg, hijacked identities of traders to falsely claim £150,000 in tax repayments from HMRC. He succeeded in claiming £66,000 and laundered the money through bank accounts with the help of Seema Haider, who let him use her address and company bank accounts to facilitate the fraud.

In February 2017 Berger was extradited back to the UK from Spain after he attempted to escape justice. HMRC had obtained two warrants for his arrest after he absconded to Spain after failing to repay £1.5m he had stolen through self assessment tax fraud between 2004 and 2007 when he lived in London.

On 26 October 2017, Berger was handed a further four and a half years in jail at Wood Green Crown Court.

Haider was found guilty of cheating the public revenue and money laundering and was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, ordered to do 250 hours of free work and pay £4200 costs.

Upon sentencing, Her Honour Judge Greenberg told Berger he was a ‘parasite, conman and fraudster’.

Mark Cox, assistant director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: ‘Berger thought he could resurrect his failed tax scam and get away with it this time – but he was wrong. He was abusing the tax system and depriving public services of vital funding to line his pockets. HMRC is making sure that crime doesn’t pay and no matter where you run we will find you.'

Amy Austin |Reporter, Accountancy Daily [2016-2019]

Amy Austin was reporter, Accountancy Daily and Accountancy magazine, published by ...

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