Mobile phone dealer boss faces 12 years in director limbo

Did somebody say VAT fraud? Yes, the Insolvency Service did

The boss of an Oxford-based mobile phone dealer who used a carousel scam to defraud the British tax collector from hundreds of thousands of pounds was today banned from holding directorships for 12 years.

William Robert Howard, 45, ran the now liquidated Expeditors Ltd from 2004 until its ultimate demise in 2017 when HMRC made a petition to wind up the business over an unpaid tax bill of £22,545.40.

The Insolvency Service (IS) then launched a probe that centred on the phone dealership’s role in the carousel deceit, also known as Missing Trade Intra Community (MTIC) fraud.

MTIC is the exploitation of tax treatments within multi-jurisdictional trading in which the movement of products between the jurisdiction is VAT free, but where the fraudster will charge VAT on the goods sold and then abscond rather than pay this over to a government’s tax collector.

Howard used the carousel to offset VAT and reclaim almost £350,000 in the firm’s 2005/06 VAT returns, folk at the Insolvency Service said today.

His nefarious activities were exposed by a couple of tell-tale signs: the rapid succession of same-day trades within Britain; the goods were not shipped but remained on the same freight forward; a common use of the same offshore bank; and payments made to third parties that were neither suppliers or customers.

Howard’s disqualification kicked in on 8 February, and effectively prohibits him from promoting, managing or being a director of a limited company until 2030.

According to Europol, MTIC is estimated to cost revenue authorities across the EU roughly €60bn a year.

The UK’s Finance Bill imposes fixed penalties for entering into transactions involved with the VAT evasion where people knew or should have known the scheme they were entering into. ®

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