The mastermind of a six-strong gang that laundered £240,000 by setting up a fake catering business, has been jailed for three and a half years.
Michael Akindele, 50, of Carshalton, Surrey, set up the firm to fraudulently claim VAT payments totalling £240,974.29, and, with five others, laundered the money through their bank accounts.
But investigators from HMRC swooped after they found the gang had hijacked an innocent person’s identity to start the business. The fraud was uncovered by HMRC’s VAT repayment taskforce, set up to identify those who fraudulently claimed VAT repayments.
Investigators also found Akindele had set up other fake businesses including a newsagents, tobacconist and IT consultants as part of the fraud.
Brett Wilkinson, assistant director, fraud investigation service, HMRC said:
“This gang thought they were above the law and that they could get away with cheating the system. They were wrong and they are paying the price for their greed.
“Tax cheats take money from the public services we all rely on. Anyone with information about tax fraud can contact our hotline on 0800 788 887.”