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Selby secretary jailed for VAT scam


3:53pm 26th November 2010
(Updated 2:32pm 30th November 2010)

A forty year-old former secretary from Selby in North Yorkshire, who tried to steal £12m in a VAT scam importing vehicles from across Europe, has been sentenced today to 10 years following an investigation by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

Jayne Mitchell, along with six others, imported more than 7,000 new vehicles, which they sold on through a complex web of fake companies with a turnover of over £80m in two years.

The cars were imported VAT free, passed through a chain of fake companies, and eventually sold on to unsuspecting car supermarkets and dealerships across the UK, but with many of the fake companies disappearing without paying the VAT due on the sales.

Peter Hollier, Regional Director, Criminal Investigation for HMRC said:

“This was a professionally organised, sustained attack on the UK tax system.  This crime group had gone to great lengths to facilitate this fraud; which saw them ‘steal’ more than £12 million from the UK’s economy. 

“This fraud allowed Jayne Mitchell to live a luxurious lifestyle; she bought Ferrari’s, lavish properties, designer accessories and champagne lunches by stealing £12 million of taxpayers money, money which could pay the annual salaries of around 450 NHS nurses.”

Mitchell and her co-conspirators developed a complicated web of businesses involved in a version of ‘missing trader’ fraud.  They set up fake companies, producing invoices for non-existent transactions and operated a cash network that saw hundreds of thousands of pounds being transferred between the gangs personal and business bank accounts siphoning off the criminal profits. 

The contrived chain of companies turned over £80 million in two years.  One company received more than £65 million in bank credits whilst another raised invoices for over £4 million in just four months.  At the height of the fraud one of the companies imported and sold more than 1,200 cars in just one month.

In his summing up His Honour Judge Durham Hall said:

“This has been a superlative investigation by HMRC and one of the largest documentary frauds brought to trial.”

Sentencing Jayne Mitchell today he added:

“You had no defence and came forward with fanciful explanations in the face of damning evidence.  This fraud was both brazen and meticulous with ruthless attention to detail.  You manipulated all and any for the pursuit of your own ends.  This was a massive, deliberate and determined attacked on the UK VAT system and a gross example of cheating the public revenue.”

The gang included; father and daughter Reginald Turner and Tammy Copson from Walsall, Peter Green from Halifax, Russell Bakewell from Cannock in Staffordshire, Demolition expert Steven Hague from Halifax and Wayne Murden from Walsall.

They were caught after HMRC began investigations into the accounts of a number of the companies controlled by Jayne Mitchell and they were subsequently charged with conspiracy to cheat the public revenue. 

Six of the gang pleaded guilty to the charges in September 2010 and will be sentenced at Leeds Crown Court on Friday 3 December.  Jayne Mitchell was found guilty today following a ten week trial.

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