Trio sentenced for £1m property VAT scam

Three fraudsters have been sentenced to a total of 10 years’ in jail after stealing over £1m in VAT repayments for building houses that never existed, while two of the scammers have been sentenced in their absence after absconding

Jamie Colwell, his father Brian Colwell and Jamie’s ex-partner Briony James claimed to have spent £14m constructing new houses but a HMRC investigation discovered that building have never started.

Jamie set up Robert Lloyd Properties Ltd and Belgravia Construction Services (South) Ltd to carry out the VAT fraud. His father, a retired builder, was a director of both companies, while Jamie’s former partner was a director of Robert Lloyd Properties. Jamie also pretended to be another director Martin Johnstone.

They used the businesses to claim VAT repayments totalling £965,897 between February 2009 and May 2015.

The fraud was discovered by HMRC’s VAT Repayment Taskforce which carried out checks on the businesses after no credible evidence of any property sales was provided to HMRC.

Jamie used £113,000 of the fraudulent funds to rent a Sandbanks property and pay household expenses. He spent another £64,000 on cars including a pre-owned Porsche 911, which he has since sold. He also owned a speedboat.

His father used the money to rent a four-bedroom Bournemouth home and on general good living.

Briony James, a former equestrian and dressage competitor, spent more than £100,000 of the criminal funds on stabling her horses, £40,000 on designer clothing and shopping, and £38,000 on cars including a Mercedes.

At Bournemouth Crown Court Jamie was sentenced to five years and three months imprisonment, Brian was jailed for 32 months and Briony James was given a 20-month sentence. Both Jamie and Brian Colwell absconded and were sentenced in their absence. Warrants have been issued for their arrest.

Jamie Colwell pleaded guilty to the full fraud of £965,897. Brian Colwell admitted defrauding £178,487 relating to Belgravia Construction Services (South) Ltd, and Briony James admitted defrauding £316,335 as Robert Lloyd Properties Ltd.

Confiscation proceedings will begin to recover the proceeds of the crime.

Report by Amy Austin 

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

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

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