A UK businessman who stole over £500,000 in a VAT fraud linked to a fictitious construction project in Iraq has been jailed for four and a half years after an investigation by HMRC, reports accountancy services Harris & Co.
Mark McAteer, 22, from Gortnarney Road, Limavady, Northern Ireland, ordered equipment and consultancy services from a machinery supply company in Northern Ireland. He claimed to be building water purification plants in Basra and Mosul.
But he didn’t have the funds, however, to pay for the goods and services and said he needed invoices in advance to get letters of credit from the Iraqi government to fund the multi-million dollar contract. McAteer used the invoices as part of a false VAT refund claim totalling £567,420.17.
John Whiting, HMRC’s assistant director of criminal investigation, said:
‘McAteer ordered goods and services with the deliberate intention of using them to generate refunds of VAT he wasn’t entitled to. He manipulated a system that exists for the benefit of legitimate companies with the sole purpose of lining his own pockets. He knew he was breaking the law, yet chose to overlook it for the opportunity of making what he wrongly assumed would be easy money at the expense of the UK taxpayer. He now has to pay for his criminal activities.’
McAteer, a company director of Macca Construction Ltd, was convicted and sentenced when he appeared at Londonderry Crown Court on 02 May 2013.