An investigation by HM Revenue and Customs discovered that Stuart Cleveland Price, 48, from Verwood in Dorset, had faked invoices to reclaim VAT he wasn’t entitled to.
Based on his repayment claims, HMRC investigators were expecting to find invoices for over £9m when in fact only a fraction of this appeared in his trading records.
John Cooper Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation, HMRC said: “Price committed fraud over a number of years deceiving not only HMRC, but also the thousands of businesses who operate honestly and within the law.
“When he was asked for documentation to support the repayment claims, he produced bank statements that had been doctored with amounts that did not add up. He also provided invoices that had genuine headings but where the details were false.”
The fraud was stopped after HMRC officers raided Price’s home and business address in June 2011 and removed his business records.
They found that Price had traded for a number of years before he started to submit fraudulent VAT repayment claims that his companies were not entitled to.
Price was charged with three VAT fraud offences on 27 September 2012. He pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing and was sentenced at Bournemouth Crown Court on Friday to 18 months in prison.
HMRC will be seeking to recover the monies stolen in a confiscation hearing.
The companies involed were ECO Homes Constructions Limited, formerly based in Wimborne, Dorset, The Steel Frame Company Limited and SIPS ECO Panels Direct Limited, both based at Allens Lane, Hamsworthy, Poole, Dorset.