Umbrella payroll cheats jailed for pocketing £45m

Grant Prior 1 year ago
Share

A family of fraudsters who pocketed more than £45m in the largest payroll fraud of its kind in the UK have been jailed for a total of 27-and-a-half years.

Essex Police is now looking to recover as much of the cash as possible from Geoffrey, Joshua and Andrew Copp.

Geoffrey, 55, his son Joshua, 24, and brother Andrew, 51, ran Central Payroll Specialists (CPS), which was later rebranded as Quality Premier Services (QPS), based in Croxley Heath near Rickmansworth.

These were umbrella payroll companies used by recruitment agencies to manage the wages of thousands of temporary workers across industries like construction.

Over the course of three years, the Copps did not pass the VAT they received from the recruitment agencies to HM Revenue and Customs.

They split the cash to fund lavish lifestyles including luxury cars, watches and property.

The scam came to light after information was passed to Essex Police, resulting in an investigation led by the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, with the assistance of HMRC’s Criminal Taxes Unit.

Initial enquiries focused on Joshua and police found that during 2013-2014, £2.4m was transferred to his personal bank accounts from CPS, and a further £9.2m was transferred to him from CPS and QPS during 2014-2015.

Further investigations by Essex Police and HMRC found the two companies paid just under £4m in VAT between September 2012 and September 2015.

HMRC investigators estimated there was just under £46million in unpaid VAT.

Tax records also showed that Geoffrey and Joshua paid no income tax between 2009 and 2015, while Andrew had paid £15,930.

Warrants were executed at their homes in May and September 2015.

In March 2016 they were each charged with conspiracy to cheat the public revenue and conspiring to conceal, disguise, convert, transfer or remove criminal property.

They stood trial at Wood Green Crown Court on April 4 and were found guilty by a jury last week.

The court heard Geoffrey set up the businesses, later taking back seat in the day to management and passing over that responsibility to Andrew.

Joshua, who previously had very little work experience, also played a substantial role in the businesses.

They spent money on houses, expensive cars, jewellery, private jet travel and gambling.

Geoffrey Copp’s home in Stanmore, bought for £1.3million in January 2014

Geoffrey Copp’s home in Stanmore, bought for £1.3million in January 2014

The court heard Geoffrey Copp bought four homes, one in Spain and three in England, mortgage free between 2014 and 2015. Their combined value is £3m.

He spent nearly £300,000 on private jet flights to Spain between July 2014 and January 2015 and owned several racehorses.

Picture on Joshua Copp’s Instagram account of himself and luxury cars. The Lamborghini is valued at £165,000.

Picture on Joshua Copp’s Instagram account of himself and luxury cars. The Lamborghini is valued at £165,000.

When police executed warrants at Joshua’s home in Olivers Lane, Stotfold, in May 2015, they found several cars worth £1m overall registered in his name and ten watches with a combined value of about £400,000.

From February 2014, Andrew Copp bought four homes for £1,395,000 and six cars, including two Lamborghinis and a Bentley Continental.

Speaking after the hearing, Detective Chief Inspector Josie Hayes, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: “This was a sophisticated scam yet all three defendants consistently denied any knowledge that their companies owned such an enormous amount of VAT.

“They saw this money as a windfall to spend as they wished.

“But this was not a victimless crime.

“The vast sums of cash they spent so freely on their extravagant lifestyles should have gone into paying for public services such as health, welfare and law and order.

“All three were well aware of what they were doing and played a substantial role in this conspiracy.

“Geoffrey set up the payroll companies and the mechanism of the fraud.

“Andrew became the director of QPS during the time when most of the VAT was stolen.

“And Joshua played an administrative role and shared out the proceeds.

“Now they will all pay for their crimes with time behind bars.

“Essex Police will also begin the process of applying for confiscation orders under the Proceeds of Crime Act to recover the cash that should rightfully have gone into the public purse, ensuring they do not benefit from their criminality.

“We have already obtained a restraint order for property and money valued at £22million, which ‘freezes’ property that may be liable to confiscation following a trial and the making of a confiscation order.

“I would like to thank the witnesses who provided evidence during the investigation and trial, and staff at HMRC’s Criminal Taxes Unit, with whom we have worked with closely on this complex case.”

QPS has been placed into liquidation as a result of a HMRC winding up petition. CPS was also liquidated.

HMRC’s Criminal Taxes Unit is working closely with the liquidators in order to maximise recoveries for creditors.

Latest news

Spurs stadium builders earning more than the players

Team of 3,800 construction workers now on site to get job finished
1 hour ago

Winners revealed for London Development Panel 2

29 organisations secure places on huge housing framework
16 hours ago

Murphy lands luxury resi and retail scheme in Henley

Construction starts this month on mixed-use scheme by the Thames
46 mins ago

Green light for Mace £70m Sheffield PRS and student scheme

Mace ramps up student development business with fourth project
1 hour ago

Wates wins £70m Barnet council building upkeep deal

Builder will maintain nearly 100 public buildings in North London Borough
1 hour ago

York Council retenders Interserve Guildhall revamp

Bids to be invited in January for Grade I building refurbishment
3 hours ago

Stantec to acquire Peter Brett Associates

Latest deal adds another 700 professionals to the expanding Stantec team
21 hours ago

Balfour boosts profits despite another Aberdeen road hit

Build to Last programme on track but Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route losses rise to £135m
1 day ago

War of words starts over Spurs stadium delay

Tottenham board "hugely frustrated" by eleventh hour report of problems by Mace
1 day ago

NG Bailey reveals £2.2m Carillion hit

M&E firm reveals cost of stalled Midlands hospital project
24 hours ago

Leading steel fabricator falls into administration

Rippin goes under due to slow paying customers and orders slowing down
2 days ago

Four clinch £500m Midlands highways framework

Balfour Beatty, Eurovia, Galliford Try and Morgan Sindall bag medium schemes framework places
1 day ago

Kier confirmed for London £27m biomedical labs job

Work to start later this year on  London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine project
1 day ago

Ex O’Rourke site leader to oversee Everton stadium scheme

Major project veteran Colin Chong to oversee move to Bramley-Moore Dock
1 day ago

Spurs confirm stadium opening delay

Tottenham holding urgent talks with Mace and trade contractors
2 days ago

Crane drivers threaten “autumn of anarchy”

Unite members at mobile giant Ainscough in strike threat
3 days ago

Plan submitted for vast York Central redevelopment

Work on York 45ha railway land redevelopment could start next year
2 days ago

Construction start date for office scheme next to Crossrail

Workspace giant HB Reavis acquires Farringdon site
2 days ago

Road and commercial delays hit Polypipe profits

Residential sector still booming and materials giant confident about rest of the year
2 days ago

Boot submits Nottingham £60m warehousing scheme

Building work set to start by autumn 2019
2 days ago

Ikon blames collapse on site death investigation

Trade creditors owed more than £9m as assets sold to new firm set up by former directors
3 days ago

Construction Enquirer Awards Top Ten winners revealed

More than 15,000 votes cast already. Book now for the big night
3 days ago

£560m Welsh healthcare framework winners

Four contractors secure NHS Wales major project pipeline
3 days ago

Balfour Beatty starts Mayfair luxury flats

Luxury 32-flats scheme is being built at 60 Curzon Street
3 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
4 months ago

Yorkshire Water starts bid race for £1bn AMP 7 work

Selected firms will deliver works not covered by tier one alliance partners
3 days ago

Plans in for £350m Leicestershire warehouse hub

IM Properties submits plan for 3.6m sq ft logistics hub near the M42
3 days ago

Redrow plots £180m Brentford mixed-use scheme

House builder teams up with social housing provider for 450-flat London scheme
3 days ago

Galliford Try wins £11m Coventry swimming pool

Olympic-size pool to be built within leisure centre on 3G football pitch site
3 days ago

Track workers dive for their lives to avoid 125mph train

Agency staff scared to challenge unsafe system of work
6 days ago

Contractor services