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Five directors jailed for hiding payments to avoid paying £2.6 million in tax

|News, Fraud and economic crime

Five directors of a printing and mailing business who attempted to conceal sales of more than £3 million in a bid to avoid paying tax have been jailed.

Headed by the directors, Anton Group generated lots of waste paper and aluminium which they sold to a recycling company between 2004 and 2012. They subsequently failed to declare the sales in order to avoid paying the necessary Corporation Tax and VAT.

John Knight, 74, was the main point of contact between the business and the recycling firm and used cash from these sales to pay himself and other directors, Stephen Knight, 67, Brian Thomas, 70, Paul Murphy, 58 and Philip Sach, 53, received income which was never recorded or declared for the purposes of income tax or National Insurance.

In addition, money belonging to the company was paid directly into directors’ bank accounts and the payments disguised. In total, the men evaded tax estimated to be worth in excess of £2.6 million.

Leigh Webber of the CPS said: “These men exploited their senior positions within the company to avoid paying tax and pay off their own personal debts.

“Their actions spanned a number of years and it is thanks to the hard work of our Specialist Fraud prosecution team working with HMRC investigators that they have now been jailed.”

Building the case

The directors attempted to cover up their illicit activity using false invoices and even lying to HMRC, as Brian Thomas, 70, provided false contracts and other paperwork which suggested the recycling company took the waste materials for free.

The prosecution showed that Stephen Knight, 67, had £325,000 paid into his account from the recycling company. Evidence of the payments in the form of handwritten receipts and Excel spreadsheets was found in the course of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) searches.

The court heard that the men had also used false purchase invoices to make more than £250,000 in ‘off the book’ payments to the directors themselves.

The prosecution strengthened their case with HMRC’s analysis of their bank accounts, which uncovered the thousands that had been paid from business accounts to the directors.

Philip Sach pleaded guilty to fraudulently evading income tax. Stephen Knight, John Knight and Brian Thomas pleaded guilty to three tax evasion offences and Paul Murphy was found guilty of two tax evasion offences.

Leigh Webber continued: “Our specialist prosecution team work tirelessly to build cases against offenders like these so they can be brought to justice.”

Notes to editors

  • The men were sentenced to a total of 11 years' imprisonment at Southwark Crown Court on 31 January 2020
  • Leigh Webber is a Specialist Prosecutor in CPS Specialist Fraud Division.

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