Nine men who pretended to be butchers have been sentenced after they made fraudulent VAT refund claims worth £1m by faking invoices.
According to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), former butcher Kaiser Matlub of Spinnyfield, Rotherham, owned Ossett Abbatoir and continued to make VAT refund claims despite having stopped trading in 2003.
Matlub alleged he was paying VAT on the purchase of sheep carcasses from a local abbatoir and claimed his company was “dressing” the carcasses to sell on as meat products to wholesalers in Yorkshire, on which VAT was not due.
He was able to reclaim the VAT he had paid when buying the carcasses.
The investigation by HMRC found that Matlub began involving his friends and family in the scam for a fee, for which he would guide them through the process, including advising them how to register for VAT as butchers and carry out their own versions of the fraud.
Investigators uncovered “substantial evidence” that Matlub had created false invoices, receipts and paperwork to support his fraudulent refund claims, totalling £275,000.
The gang members were each charged in December 2012 with one count of cheating the public revenue and one count of laundering criminal property.
Zaheer Yousaf, Vacaas Mahroof, and Paul Crapper, all from Sheffield; Jarrel Clark, of no fixed abode; Mohammadh Ajaib Khan from Nelson; Stanley Miller and Simon Spurr, from Rotherham, and James O’Keefe from Surrey were sentenced on 18 October at Leeds Crown Court.
Sandra Smith, HMRC’s assistant director of criminal investigation, said: “Matlub set up his sham company with the sole intention of stealing taxes and then aided others in doing the same.
“These were the actions of a group of people who decided it was better not to follow the rules, but who are now counting the cost of trying to rip off honest taxpayers.”