A haulier has been included in the UK customs authority’s top 10 criminal cases of last year.
Millionaire businessman Peter Charles Duffield, from Orpington, ran a 50-vehicle haulage business in Essex among other concerns but failed to submit a single tax return to HMRC in seven years.
He was found to owe £1.3m in tax and sentenced to four years; two in prison and two on licence.
When arrested at his home he told investigating officers that he hadn’t submitted returns because he wasn’t “a paperwork person”.
This was despite a previous warning from HMRC to keep his tax affairs in order. Arresting officers also seized more than £20,000 in cash that he had stashed in a wardrobe.
HMRC investigators found that while Duffield kept full business records, and ensured his bookkeeper and accountant were told about receipts and earnings, he never signed or posted the tax returns they prepared on his behalf.
Officers found that Duffield had spent his money on property, family holidays to Marbella, Rolex watches, nine vehicles, a gun collection and investments in phospate mining in Iraq.
In sentencing him at the Old Bailey in March the judge told him his evasion was deliberate and dishonest.
Paul Barton, assistant director of HMRC’s fraud investigation service said: “Duffield could have avoided jail, and was given every opportunity to get his tax affairs in order. However, despite warnings and advice from professionals Duffield showed a blatant disregard for the tax system and funded a lavish lifestyle at taxpayers’ expense.”
Also in HMRC’s top 10 criminal cases of the year was the prosecution of nine people, including the owner of a Belfast-based fuel supply company, for their part in red diesel scam.
In a crime which HMRC said meant £2.6m in lost duty and taxes, the gang laundered millions of litres of red diesel which was sold on as legitimate road fuel to unsuspecting motorists.
Robert Clarke, of Dundrod Rd, Crumlin, the owner of Clarke Fuels based on the Shankill Rd and Mark Pollock, from Lyndhurst Grove, Belfast, were both jailed when they appeared at Laganside Crown Court in January.