VAT fraud ends in 11-year ban

Commercial Motor
November 21, 2018

A haulier who falsified his firm’s tax returns in an effort to keep afloat has been banned from being a director for 11 years.

David Cooper from Blyth, Northumberland, was a director of CFM Transport (CFMT), based in Chester Le Street, Tyne and Wear. Cooper was an HGV mechanic and driver for around 30 years before moving into the road haulage business, at which point he incorporated CFMT and began trading in 2011.

The business grew and expanded into European markets and he set up two further companies, CFM Cargo Logistics and CFM Continental. In early 2015, however, one of the company’s vehicles was involved in an accident abroad and while waiting for the insurance claim to be settled and the companies’ petrol tax refund entitlements, Cooper submitted false VAT claims to keep the firms going.

Cooper’s crime was discovered and with the prospect of criminal proceedings for tax-related fraud, he opted to cease trading. Following the end of the liquidation process, the Insolvency Service looked in to Cooper’s role in the collapse of the companies.

The investigations revealed he had knowingly created and submitted false returns to claim VAT to which the company was not entitled. On 8 October, the secretary of state accepted a disqualification undertaking from Cooper, after he admitted knowingly creating and submitting false returns to reclaim VAT to which the company was not entitled.

The 11-year ban came into effect on 29 October. Insolvency service chief investigator Robert Clarke said: “The public can be assured that where there have been abuses of public finance provisions which result in losses of this type, the Insolvency Service will investigate the conduct of the parties involved and take action to remove the privilege of limited liability trading for a lengthy period.

“Directors have a firm duty to ensure they deal properly with tax matters and pay what is due. Cooper has paid the price for failing to do that, as he cannot now carry on in business other than at his own risk.”

. In a separate investigation, Cooper was convicted of “being knowingly concerned in fraudulent evasion of VAT”, totalling £148,228 and on 15 June 2017 he was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment, suspended for 24 months.

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