A fraudster who used taxpayers’ money to fund a lavish lifestyle has been jailed for seven years.
Veekshit Ramoo submitted £2.1 million of fraudulent VAT repayment claims to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).
The claims were made through his bookkeeping company for VAT payments to suppliers that were never made.
Fortunately, eagle-eyed HMRC officers spotted the bogus claims, which were then forensically investigated.
Investigators found that transactions in Ramoo’s personal and business accounts were used to pay for jewellery, shopping trips to high-end retailers, luxury cars and flights to holiday destinations around the world. He also used some of the money to pay off a mortgage held by his wife’s parents.
Speaking after the trial, where Ramoo was found guilty of cheating the public revenue and two counts of converting criminal property, a spokesman for HMRC said that the fraudster had used taxpayers’ cash “as a piggy bank to indulge his lavish lifestyle, love of fast cars and expensive holidays” but came unstuck after investigators uncovered his lies.
The spokesman added that the investigation does not stop at the conviction and that the taxman will seek to recover the stolen money through the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA).
Roger Isaacs, Forensic Partner at Milsted Langdon, said: “When a convicted criminal is sentenced, forensic investigators will often examine their personal and business accounts to calculate the amount by which they profited from their crime.
“The courts can recover these proceeds of crime and if those convicted fail to pay the amount ordered as being due they are likely to face additional gaol time.
“However, most fraud cases are complex, and criminal misconduct can be intertwined with legitimate businesses.
“Those facing POCA proceedings are therefore well advised to engage their own forensic accountants to ensure that money obtained legitimately is not improperly identified as the proceeds of crime. This task is all the more important because the burden of proof is often on the accused to prove the legitimacy of income rather than the usual presumption of innocence”