02:47PM, Tuesday 30 August 2016
Charles Mogford. Photos courtesy of HMRC.
The former owners of a Maidenhead-based motor dealership have been sentenced for illegally claiming £86,000 in VAT repayment.
Charles Mogford, 53, and Julia Smith, 51, are former company directors of Auto Exporters UK Limited, which traded as Berkshire Land Rover until July 2014.
The pair submitted a VAT claim in February 2010, which made a claim for the purchase of 31 Land Rovers, when in fact the real invoice was only for two vehicles.
The fraudulent invoice, dated January 22, 2010, was used to make a false VAT repayment claim, which has now been exposed after an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
Mogford, of Ray Mead Road, pleaded guilty to the fraudulent evasion of VAT (£86,118.99) at a hearing at Reading Crown Court on June 30, and was jailed for two years at the same court today (Tuesday).
Smith (pictured below), of Primrose Hill, Widmer End, was given an 18-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, after being found guilty of the same offence by a jury on July 4.
Mogford and Smith have also been banned from holding any company directorships for 10 and eight years respectively, while Smith must also complete 180 hours of unpaid work.
Upon sentencing Mogford, Judge Johannah Cutts, said: “You had the leading role in this offence."
She added she 'believed that he had doctored the invoice'.
In a statement released after the sentencing, Anthony Swarbrick, assistant director of the Fraud Investigation Service at HMRC, said: “Mogford and Smith had traded legitimately, but greed led them to commit VAT fraud. Our message is clear - it is simply not acceptable to steal from the tax system and, ultimately, honest UK taxpayers.
“HMRC will continue to pursue those criminals who attack the tax system and we ask anyone with information about suspected VAT fraud to contact our 24-hour Hotline on 0800 59 5000.”
The £86,000 has been repaid to HMRC.
The company now trading from Berkshire Land Rover's former base in Stafferton Way, Nene Overland, was not a part of the investigation.
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Police raided addresses in Lillibrooke Crescent, Cox Green, and in Crown Lane, Farnham Royal, at about 7.15am.