Contractor convicted of stealing £372,000

Published:  08 August, 2014

An electrical contractor from Stoke-on-Trent has been ordered to repay £110,756 or spend an additional two years in jail following years of fraudulent VAT repayment claims.

A Staffordshire man, jailed for stealing over £372,000 through fraudulent VAT repayment claims, has been ordered to repay £110,756 within six months or face an extra two years in jail. The confiscation order comes after a financial investigation by HM Revenue Customs (HMRC).

Ross Elliott, from Stoke-on-Trent, claimed that between January 2008 and October 2010 he was working as an electrical contractor on newbuild developments for a number of large, well-known building companies. He submitted hundreds of purchase invoices to reclaim VAT, but HMRC investigators discovered these were all false.

Adrian Farley, assistant director of criminal investigation for HMRC, said: "Elliott stole this substantial sum of money purely to line his own pockets. His abuse of the VAT repayment system was carried out over a sustained period of time and involved a high degree of planning. Today’s hearing will serve as a stern reminder that action does not stop with a prison sentence; we will pursue every avenue to ensure money stolen is reclaimed for the taxpayer and public finances.”

Evidence gathered during the HMRC investigation showed Mr Elliott had little or no lawful trade since 2007. Sales invoices alleging he carried out work for private homeowners, who had never heard of him, were fictitious.

Elliot was previously sentenced to four years in prison on 7 January 2013 at the same court, but was given a 25% reduction, as a result of his guilty plea, to three years. He pleaded guilty to charges of fraudulent evasion of VAT contrary to the Value Added Tax Act 1994.