HMRC smashes £6.9m construction tax fraud

Grant Prior 8 years ago

A £6.9m tax fraud centred on the construction industry has been busted by HMRC following a two-year investigation.

Three men will be sentenced next week at Maidstone Crown Court after being unanimously convicted of conspiracy to cheat the public revenue following a six week trial.

Millions were deducted from workers’ pay packets on major sites but never passed on to the Revenue.

Accountant Aquil Ahmed, 60, Victor Shearer, 43, a construction services company director; and Christopher Azzopardi, 36, a payroll administrator, all from Kent, defrauded HMRC of VAT, Income Tax, National Insurance Contributions and Construction Industry Scheme deductions over two-and-a-half years.

Ahmed operated a series of companies that offered an ‘umbrella’ pay-roll service to his clients who were mostly labour supply companies or recruitment agencies.  Azzopardi was Ahmed’s assistant.

Together they operated a sophisticated web of UK-registered companies and bank accounts through which they invoiced their clients for their workers wages, income taxes and VAT – but failed to pay taxes over to HMRC.

Between 2010 and 2012 Ahmed’s pay-roll companies fraudulently witheld £7m in PAYE, National Insurance contributions, Construction Industry Scheme deductions and VAT.

That money was laundered through a series of companies set up for the purpose in Gibraltar and Belize, and from there was transferred to bank accounts held in Jersey, Guernsey, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, USA, South Africa, Dubai and Chile.

Shearer was the sole director of London based Leaner Logistics which supplied temporary and casual labour.

Leaner Logistics worked for a number of industry big names including a string of projects for Mace.

Shearer acted as a client of Ahmed’s pay-roll service and in return received a £1.2m share of the unpaid taxes over its two-year operation.

The rest of the proceeds were shared between Ahmed, his business partner, and the directors of his other client companies who had lent themselves to the fraud.

Chris Gill, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HM Revenue & Customs, said: “HMRC uncovered this complex and sophisticated fraud, operated through a multitude of UK and offshore companies.

“The fraudsters abused the tax system which is designed to ensure workers are paid correctly, and taxes are paid to HMRC.

“This investigation shows that regardless of the resources of those involved, no one is beyond our reach.”

Latest news

Receivers in at £125m Manchester tower developer

Domis Construction walked away from scheme following doubts over funding
18 hours ago

McAlpine pulls out of £55m Carlisle Citadels project

University of Cumbria starts hunt for replacement contractor
4 days ago

Strabag UK suffers further big trading loss

Austrian contractor is gearing up for major presence in the UK market
3 days ago

Durham Uni picks UPP for £130m student scheme

Firm will deliver 1,000 self-catered bed spaces
3 days ago

Architects now upbeat after 10-months of work gloom

Larger practices see rising workloads in next three months
3 days ago

Motorist dies after collision with road paver

Police Scotland investigating fatal crash
4 days ago

McLaren Living appoints HG Construction for £69m scheme

Build to Rent scheme will transform former vacant car park site in Leeds city centre
4 days ago

Squibb liquidator probes £2m of “missing” plant

Machinery, cars and scrap metal have disappeared at demolition specialist
4 days ago

Galliford Try to re-enter affordable homes market

Contractor sets out new five-year plan to build margin to 4%
4 days ago

Former Sellar chief to lead civils contractor Kilnbridge

Owen Dannatt joins as new CEO as founder Dermot McDermott becomes Chairman
4 days ago

Hunt starts for nuclear fusion plant construction partner

Fusion energy plant to be built at West Burton coal power station site.
4 days ago

National Grid raises £7bn for big infrastructure upgrade

Rights issue to fund a major round of capital investment in energy infrastructure
4 days ago

Grenfell police probe to last at least until end of 2025

19 companies and 58 individuals could eventually face charges
5 days ago

Mace confirmed on £100m London office retrofit

Work underway on Helical's 100 New Bridge Street job near Ludgate Circus
5 days ago

Wylfa chosen for next big nuclear power station build

Government names Anglesey site for a large-scale gigawatt nuclear power plant.
5 days ago

Bowmer & Kirkland trading profit halves

Contractor buys HVAC specialist Adcock despite challenging market
5 days ago

Piling specialist Van Elle plans further job cuts

Piling specialist plans further cost savings in face of lower demand
5 days ago

Civils contractor A Catlow files administration notice

High voltage cable specialist lodges court notice
5 days ago

Green light for ARC Oxford lab campus

Work to start later this year on £40m Ascent building job
5 days ago

Stonehenge tunnel hit by another legal delay

Court upholds latest appeal against £1.7bn scheme by campaigners
6 days ago

Plans go in for huge Olympic Park construction hub

Bow Goods Yard could deliver 3.5m tonnes of materials a year to sites across London
6 days ago

40% affordable homes target for Labour’s new towns

Labour pledges to select new town sites by end of first year
6 days ago

Plan for £100m Liverpool Baltic station

Construction work could begin next year
6 days ago

Surgo Construction went down owing £4.5m

Biggest creditor is Bellway Homes after dispute on housing job
6 days ago

Vistry seals £157m West London housing deal

Around 575 homes to be built at Merrick Place scheme in Ealing
6 days ago

Streamlined Watkin Jones returns to profit in first half

Multi-room specialist sees secured work pipeline hit £1.4bn
6 days ago

Bellway hires ex-brickie as group construction chief

James Griffin to oversee move to the Future Homes Standard and timber frame.
6 days ago

Persimmon under fire for delays to £10m relief road

West Suffolk Council serves Breach of Condition Notices after timetable slips again
6 days ago

BAM wins £33m Kent secondary school job

Replacement Swanley academy to be built at live school site
6 days ago

Aluminium cladding specialist collapses

Melton Mowbray-based firm worked for several main contractors
1 week ago

Contractor services