A Worcestershire farmer, who at one time fled to Zimbabwe in order to escape prosecution by the taxman, was sentenced to 36 months in prison this week – after being found guilty of a tax fraud involving £1.4m of VAT over a 3 year period.
Paul David Hussell (aged 50), sent in 41 false VAT repayment claims relating to his father’s tenanted farm. According to HMRC: “He used money from the fraud to buy an Aston Martin DB9 and a six-berth Regal motor cruiser – purchases he kept secret from his wife”. The tax fiddle was uncovered by a VAT officer during a routine check of the monthly VAT returns.
HM Revenue and Customs criminal investigators originally arrested Hussell in November 2011. However, in order to avoid further question questioning he fled to Zimbabwe. Following a period of ill-health he returned to the UK in late 2012, and was re-arrested and charged in November 2013 when tax inspectors found him hidden in the farm’s bathroom. During the house search the tax investigators found false invoices hidden under a wardrobe.
HMRC have started proceedings to get the money back, using the Proceeds Of Crime Act.
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