A fraudster who embezzled more than £1m of public funds by establishing fake tax companies has been locked up for two years.
South African Lawrence Goldberg, aged 47 of west London registered 51 companies to pose as a tax agent, where he used other people’s identities for fraudulent tax returns to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) in order to receive tax repayments.
Goldberg transferred the illegal cash to offshore accounts and HMRC investigators prevented a further £4m being paid out, identifying over 2,000 false tax returns.
John Pointing, assistant director of criminal investigations at HMRC, said this latest fraud was on a huge scale.
He explained: “HMRC will not stand by while crooks like Goldberg steal money paid by honest taxpayers that is needed for vital services in our communities.
“The extra £900m being invested in HMRC by the government will help us step up the fight against criminals and stamp out tax fraud.”
Goldberg had originally masterminded the fraud from a maisonette in West London, but he later fled to his native South Africa, having transferred his criminal operation to Portugal.
He was extradited to the UK in April and pleaded guilty to all charges two months later.
Goldberg was captured and charged by the South African authorities on a separate charge relating to a suspected bank fraud against a South African bank, although charges against him were later dismissed.
His sentence was reduced to two years from the original four due to time spent on remand in the South African prison.