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HMRC get their man as crooked construction boss is jailed

Construction: Building highrise offices

The director of a Kent construction services company has been jailed along with his two associates after they systematically defrauded HMRC over a two-and-a half-year period.

Construction Enquirer reported this week that Victor Shearer, along with his accountant Aquil Ahmed and payroll administrator Christopher Azzopardi were jailed for a total of 19 years for the £6.9 million tax fraud.

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

“Driven by Greed”

Ahmed employed Azzopardi to operate a superficially compliant payroll, supposedly calculating wages and paying appropriate tax and NI, but in fact these were not being paid across to HMRC, likewise the VAT that was charged to clients. Instead the funds were being retained and siphoned off to fund Ahmed and Shearer’s lavish lifestyles.

The trio attempted to cover their tracks by using a complex network of UK and offshore companies and bank accounts. But despite the sophistication of the fraud, it eventually unravelled in the face of HMRC scrutiny.

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

Know who you are dealing with

Hundreds of construction contractors found themselves exploited in this scam, providing their services in good faith and believing they were being taxed appropriately.

By working through a legitimate Umbrella/CIS provider, you have the assurance that not only are appropriate tax and NI deductions being retained, they are being paid correctly and on time to HMRC through RTI.

How can I tell if an Umbrella company is legit?

Be wary of popup providers claiming to be compliant and “HMRC approved” (there’s no such thing).

Joe Taffurelli, Operations Manager at Liquid Friday says: “Choosing an FCSA accredited company is one way to guarantee that you are dealing with a compliant umbrella. We are independently audited against the association’s Code of Compliance on an annual basis and sign up to a stringent code of ethics. It is shameful that so many contractors will be affected by this incident and Liquid Friday supports HMRC’s & FCSA’s efforts to clean up the industry.”

Find out more about the FCSA

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