Tree surgeon jailed for VAT fraud

|News, Fraud and economic crime

A tree surgeon has been jailed for fraudulently claiming thousands of pounds in VAT repayments.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said that Graham Mein, 40, submitted fake VAT returns claiming business losses of £544,072, and repayments of VAT of £102,714.

He was the owner of North East Firewood and Tree Felling which supplies coal and kindling and carries out tree surgery.

The company had claimed £102,714 in VAT repayments on VAT returns over the last four years and declared losses of £544,072.

Mein’s fraudulent behaviour came to light after he submitted a claim for repayments of £14,845. No small business could have continued like this and so Her Majesty’s Revenue and Custom (HMRC) launched their investigation.

As a result of the investigation it was found that Mein falsified invoices so he could declare false purchases on VAT returns. This resulted in a fraudulent claim of VAT repayments to the value of £32,743.

The invoices where checked with the registered company that Mein had pretended the invoices had come from and were confirmed to be fakes.

On the 10 September 2019, Mein pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud. He was sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court on 7 November and was jailed for a total of 18 months.

Robert Girvan, for the CPS, said: “Mr Mein defrauded the public through submitting false VAT returns.

"Thankfully this was picked up following concerns from HMRC so it could not continue further.

“This fraudulent behaviour is a criminal offence and will be prosecuted. Mr Mein is now behind bars as a result. We will continue to work with HMRC to keep the public purse safe.”

Notes to editors

  • Robert Girvan is a Senior Crown Prosecutor for the CPS Mersey-Cheshire Fraud Unit

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