Construction boss jailed for £6.9m payroll fraud

Grant Prior 2 years ago
Share

A construction boss is among three Kent men jailed for a total of 19 years for stealing £6.9m in taxes to fund their lavish lifestyles.

Co-conspirators Aquil Ahmed, 60, an accountant; Victor Shearer, 43, a construction services company director; and Christopher Azzopardi, 37, a payroll administrator employed by Ahmed ran the con for two-and-a-half years

They cheated HM Revenue and Customs of VAT, Income Tax, National Insurance Contributions and Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) deductions.

The men attempted to hide their fraud by using a complex network of companies and bank accounts in the UK and offshore. But their crimes were uncovered by investigators from HMRC.

Ahmed employed Azzopardi to operate payroll services for clients through his various ‘Keepers’ companies, supposedly calculating wages and paying any tax due to HMRC through the PAYE and CIS systems.

Clients were charged VAT on these services, but neither the VAT nor the PAYE and CIS deductions were paid across to HMRC.

Shearer’s company, Leaner Logistics, supplies short-term contractors to the construction industry, mainly in London and the South East.

Often providing hundreds of workers at a time, Shearer turned to Ahmed’s Keepers companies to run his payroll and CIS.

Over time, Shearer introduced other clients to the payroll company, who also used this fraudulent scheme.

But rather than pay the tax and National Insurance to HMRC, the three men stole the money to fund Ahmed and Shearer’s lavish lifestyles.

Ahmed owned a Bentley; bought properties in the UK, USA and Turkey; and took multiple foreign holidays, including trips to Dubai and the Monaco Grand Prix.

Shearer was also found guilty of laundering his £1.2m cut through a bank account in Gibraltar.

The court heard how vast sums were spent by Shearer, through bank transfers, cash withdrawals and by debit card, on property and high-living, ski holidays, cars and treating friends, family and clients.

Chris Gill, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “These men were driven by greed, abusing systems that are designed to ensure workers are paid correctly and taxes paid to HMRC.

“They were all professionals who knew they were breaking the law, but as an accountant Ahmed was in a position of trust, making his part in the conspiracy even more deplorable.

“These criminals thought they’d created a sophisticated fraud, and that by operating through numerous UK and offshore companies, they could hide what they were doing.

“But our investigations are thorough, and with assistance from authorities in Gibraltar, we unravelled the many layers they’d created and they are now paying the price for their crimes.

Ahmed, Azzopardi and Shearer were sentenced to 7 years 8 months, 4 years and 7 years 6 months imprisonment, respectively, when they appeared at Maidstone Crown Court last week.

Latest news

Kier on track with debt reduction efforts

Kier chief says firm is chipping away at £410m debt mountain
2 days ago

Winners revealed of £22m fund for on-site training hubs

Full list of 26 winners for new initiative to train on live construction sites
2 days ago

Bouygues UK south east chief exits

Darren Gill leaves after 22 years at Bouygues Construction
2 days ago

Wates wins £82m London Haringey tower job

Work starts on developer Anthology's 32-storey Hale Works resi block
2 days ago

B&K tipped for £60m Nottingham HMRC hub

Developers seal forward funding for Unity Square scheme
2 days ago

Regal to build £55m Lords retirement homes block

Over 55s housing scheme will be build next to London cricket ground
2 days ago

Caledonian takes £25m Wembley student pods order

Offsite specialist will deliver 680 bedroom modules for high-rise First Way Campus
2 days ago

Robertson wins pair of Glasgow hotel jobs

Marriott and Moxy hotels to be built next to SSE Hydro venue
2 days ago

Boost your online presence – join the new Enquirer Directory

New site for suppliers and buyers will showcase their products, services and latest stories
7 months ago

Kier raises £24m from Australian road business sell-off

KHSA road assets and management services business offloaded to pay down debt
3 days ago

Wates rejigs construction senior management

Mark Tant promoted to new managing director role at construction division
4 days ago

Stansted Airport expansion wins council approval

Ambitious airport expansion plans scrape through local planning
3 days ago

Robot bricklayer builds house in under three days

Tech company hails a "quantum leap for the construction industry"
3 days ago

Lendlease lands Oxford Street office and retail scheme

Main construction work to start early next year at Oxford House
3 days ago

Green light for 335 PRS flats in Sheffield

Work to start next year on multi-block Sylvester Street scheme
3 days ago

Alun Griffiths signs £70m final phase Worcester link road

Contractor to start work in March on A4440 Worcester Southern Link Road
3 days ago

Interserve fights to quell stock market jitters

Share price rallies after plunging to all time low yesterday as group denies crisis
4 days ago

Crossrail contractors facing overtime clawback

Bills questioned in race to get the job completed
4 days ago

Heathrow names airport expansion delivery boss

KPMG's Emma-Jane Houghton joins in February and is in charge of procurement, contracts and costs
4 days ago

British Land aims to start £385m London project duo

Developer looks to start major Shoreditch scheme and Paddington hotel within 12 months
4 days ago

Work to start on Sheffield Park Hill estate student scheme

Work to start early next year on plan to convert former housing block to student rooms
4 days ago

East London raid saves modern slavery victims

Man arrested and six potential victims safeguarded
4 days ago

Contractor closes down concrete products business

Mounting losses force Concrete Products (Kirkcaldy) to cease trading
4 days ago

Payroll company ceases trading blaming VAT changes

Sprite shuts down as tax change looms which could have huge impact on construction
5 days ago

HS2 unveils Crewe Link £1.6bn civils bid plan

HS2 Phase 2a to be split into two civils packages worth over £750m
5 days ago

Plan for Sheffield’s tallest building approved

32-storey private rental flats scheme gains outline planning
5 days ago

McCarthy & Stone plans more competitive tendering regime

Retirement homes specialist advances building cost reduction plan
5 days ago

£384m North London community scheme approved

Britannia Leisure scheme will be built next to Shoreditch Park in Hackney
5 days ago

Forrest sites closed as contractor tries to refinance business

Company denies administration rumours as talks with banks continue
6 days ago

Pre-construction work starts on £1bn Silvertown Tunnel

Specialist ITM Monitoring lands deal under pioneering Tfl framework
5 days ago

Contractor services