A Grantham area businessman who carried out a £130,000 tax fraud in a bid to solve his financial problems was yesterday (Tuesday) jailed for 18 months at Lincoln Crown Court.
Richard Crisp, 30, of Aveland Way, Aslackby, east of Grantham, submitted a series of false VAT returns to claim back significant sums of money for his company Crisp Hire Ltd, which it was not entitled to.
Crisp admitted five charges of making false representation by stating a VAT return on behalf of Crisp Hire Ltd was a lawful claim for repayment on dates between September 2011 and September 2012.
Andrew Price, prosecuting, said that Crisp was successful with his first three bogus returns which resulted in HMRC paying more than £7,000 reclaimed VAT to his company.
But he came unstuck in May 2012 when he submitted a further false document to reclaim £119,425 worth of VAT.
The claim was flagged up as suspicious and the money was withheld pending the outcome of an investigation.
Crisp went on to send in another false VAT return for the next quarter claiming back another £5,000 but that was also withheld by HMRC.
Mr Price said Crisp was interviewed and claimed the first four VAT returns were submitted by a book keeper who had offered his services “out of the blue”.
He said he had no contact details for the book keeper but investigations revealed the man had not been registered with the authorities to act on behalf of the company.
Mr Price said: “This involved significant planning and the setting up of a company. This defendant in assuming a role as a director of a company acquired a position of trust and responsibility and abused that position.”
Judge Michael Heath, passing sentence, told him: “I am not persuaded that this is a case where I should draw back from immediate custody.”
James MacDonald, defending, said that the actual amount of money Crisp received was relatively low.
He told the court: “This was an unsophisticated and poorly planned attempt to defraud the Revenue.
“There was a claim for almost £120,000. Not only did the defendant not receive that money but he was never going to receive it because it was such an outlandish claim.
“This is not a man who was in the process of making significant profits either from his business or from this offending. He attempted to set up as business and was hopelessly naïve in thinking what that business could achieve.
“He borrowed to excess. He borrowed from a loan shark. When his business was failing he continued to borrow.”
Mr MacDonald said that Crisp was faced with a £4,000 a month repayment to clear his debt to the loan shark which he had no way of meeting.
“In his naivety he hatched a scheme as a way he could solve all his problems. This is not a man who led a lavish lifestyle. It was quite the contrary.”
He told the court that Crisp no longer works and is now full-time carer for his wife who has health problems.
“He is deeply remorseful. He is extremely anxious about the outcome of this case. The effect of an immediate custodial sentence on his family would be catastrophic.”