Two Matlock men have been jailed after attempting to defraud the government of £620,000 with false VAT receipts.
Gregory Palin, 44, the director of fruit and veg company Palins Direct has been sent down with his conspirator for VAT fraud to the tune of £0.6 million.
The owner of the food wholesaler who lives on Sydnope Hill, Two Dales conspired with his bookkeeper Paul Marchington, 35 to try and claim more than £620,000 in VAT by creating fake invoices, which was picked up by an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs.
Palin submitted two false VAT repayment claims over a six-month period but after the second claim in February 2014, officers became suspicious and began an investigation, said HMRC.
The pair were arrested on 31 March, 2014 and were sentences to 18 months and 12 months in prison at a Derby Crown Court hearing yesterday (May 27).
HMRC’s assistant director of criminal investigations Stuart Taylor said: “This was a pre-planned, deliberate attempt by this pair, to steal a substantial sum of public money to line their own pockets – which was ultimately driven by greed
“HMRC will pursue people like Palin and Marchington who attempt to defraud the system because tax fraud takes away money that is desperately needed to fund vital public services.”
Following their arrest and during a search of home and business premises, HMRC officers discovered handwritten paperwork and other evidence proving the scam had been planned months in advance.
Both men pleaded guilty to charges when they appeared at Derby Crown Court on April 30.
The pair had overinflated company purchases and created false invoices, mainly in relation to a new building on the site, to generate the VAT repayments.
The firm’s products are subject to zero-rated VAT, and had fraudulently obtained £69,373 of public money before repayments were stopped.
HM Revenue and Customs asks anyone with information about people who may be involved in tax fraud to contact their Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000.