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Cornwall's "Biggest Ever" Tax Fraud Trial

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Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 8:14am 10th April 2014.

An accountant has been jailed for at least seven years at the end of what is being described Cornwall's biggest ever tax fraud trial.

Inspectors found Simon Pearce from Truro stole around £2 million while he was working in St Austell.

HMRC launched an investigation after a string of complaints.

Inspectors found that across an eight year period, he had claimed repayments for at least 16 clients but had not passed on some or all of the money.

The 48 year old had also submitted incorrect tax returns, defrauding HMRC of Income Tax, VAT and Capital Gains Tax.

Mr Pearce falsified his own Self Assessment tax returns with lower profit figures, lied about authority to receive payments on behalf of a customer, forged a client's signature on accounts sent to Companies House, and forged letters authorising him to receive Income Tax payments.

In some cases, his clients were unaware that their tax returns had been submitted and had no idea they were due a refund.

Colin Spinks, HMRC Assistant Director Criminal Investigation, said: "Honest, hardworking people trusted Pearce with their finances, but he put their livelihoods at risk through his own greed. Sadly, he abused his reputation and position to commit tax fraud on a massive scale, stealing from clients and the wider taxpaying public.  

"Our long and complex investigation shows we take this type of crime extremely seriously and ask anyone with information about people involved in tax fraud to contact the Tax Evasion Hotline on 0800 788 887."

Upon sentencing at Truro Crown Court, His Honour Judge Neligan, said: "There was a considerable degree of planning and that the cheating was persistent”. He added that Pearce “demonstrated a systematically dishonest approach to tax returns and clearly had some talent, which he sadly used to defraud."

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