VAT fraud ends in 11-year ban


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.

Traffic Commissioner throws out waste offender’s licence bid

Traffic Commissioners

A convicted waste offender who applied for an O-licence has been turned down. Giles Graham Detheridge appeared before West Midlands traffic commissioner (TC) Nick Denton (pictured) in the summer but the TC’s written decision was only published at the end of October.

One of the reasons the licence application was thrown out was that Detheridge’s sentence was not yet “spent” - the legal term for the time after which a sentence can be ignored. Denton wrote that Detheridge had noted on his application form that he was convicted in June 2016 for operating a waste site without a permit and was sentenced to six months in prison.

He added: “He further noted that this ‘conviction is now spent’ although in fact it does not become spent until 11 December. Detheridge, together with his business partner Ronald Calder had rented the site from John Bruce, a man with a record of multiple convictions and imprisonment for dumping contaminated waste.” When Detheridge was asked why he had declared his conviction as spent when it was not he replied he had used the word only in the sense that he had completed his prison sentence.

Denton, who said he was concerned at the application, asked Detheridge about his work and finances. Asked to account for two payments in June from Hudsons Grab Waste totalling more than £2,500 he could not recall what they were for. “Detheridge did not give me the impression at the PI as someone in whom I could place the trust that a TC extends to an operator.”

Denton added that not only did Detheridge have no explanation for the money that had gone into his account but “he had not brought to the inquiry any of the documentation relating to his intended maintenance and drivers’ hours compliance systems which I had requested”. “Overall I conclude that, at the current time, because of his serious conviction and because of his dissembling at the inquiry, Detheridge is not a fit person to hold a goods vehicle operator’s licence.

"Nor does he have satisfactory arrangements in place to ensure that drivers’ hours rules are observed or that vehicles are kept in a fit and serviceable condition. The application is therefore refused.”