Nine men who pretended to be butchers, then made fraudulent VAT refund claims of £1m by faking invoices, have been sentenced after an investigation by HMRC.
Former butcher Kaiser Matlub, from Spinneyfield, Rotherham in Sheffield, owned Ossett Abbatoir, but he stopped trading in 2003. However, he continued to make VAT refund claims using faked documents, claiming to trade in meat products.
Matlub became so confident that he started to share the scam with friends and family. For a fee, he guided them through the process, advising them how to register for VAT as butchers and carry out their own versions of the fraud.
The other gang members were: Zaheer Yousaf, Vacaas Mahroof, and Paul Crapper, all from Sheffield; Jarrel Clark, of no fixed abode; Mohammadh Ajaib Khan from Nelson, Stanley Miller and Simon Spurr, from Rotherham, and James O’Keefe from Surrey.
Sandra Smith, HMRC assistant director, criminal investigation, said: “Matlub set up his sham company with the sole intention of stealing taxes and then aided others in doing the same. These were the actions of a group of people who decided it was better not to follow the rules, but who are now counting the cost of trying to rip off honest taxpayers.”
Matlub alleged he was paying VAT on the purchase of sheep carcasses from a local abattoir. He claimed his company was then “dressing” the carcasses, selling on meat products such as lamb chops to wholesalers in Yorkshire, on which VAT was not due. This enabling him to reclaim the VAT he had paid when buying the carcasses.
However, the supply chain did not exist and investigators found substantial evidence that Matlub had simply created false invoices, receipts and paperwork to support his multiple fraudulent refund claims, totalling £275,000.
The fraud was uncovered by HMRC investigators and the gang members were each charged in December 2012 with one count of cheating the public revenue and one count of laundering criminal property.
The gang were sentenced on 18 October 2013 at Leeds Crown Court.
Matlub, pleaded guilty to one count of cheating the public revenue and one count of laundering criminal property on 9 April 2013. He was sentenced to four years in prison for each count, to run concurrently.
Jarrel Clark, of no fixed abode pleaded not guilty to one count of cheating the public revenue and one count of laundering criminal property and was later found guilty by a jury on 27 July 2013. He was sentenced to four years in prison for each count, to run concurrently.
The other men in the VAT scam received suspended prison sentences or were ordered to do unpaid work.