UK: MAN SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR COUNTERFEITING CURRENCY TRIED TO PAY CONFISCATION ORDER by VAT fraud + money laundering
Anyone with information about suspected VAT fraud to report it to HMRC online or call our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.
John Farrell has been jailed for 27 months (Picture: PA)
Farrell, from Thorntonhall, South Lanarkshire, was jailed for 27 months when he appeared at Glasgow Sheriff Court today after pleading guilty to VAT fraud and money laundering at a previous appearance in January. HMRC began looking into the bogus companies after concerns were raised about the VAT claims and an officer visited Farrell, who was using the name Andrew Strachan. Farrell’s false identity was exposed when a sharp officer recognised him from a newspaper article about the forgery confiscation order.
Farrell was initially locked up for producing fake banknotes (Picture: PA)
Bank statements for bogus companies and fake passports seized from the home of John Farrell (Picture: PA)
HMRC fraud investigation service assistant director Cheryl Burr said: ‘This was a shocking ploy by Farrell to pocket public money. ‘His actions were one of pure greed, so he could lead a comfortable lifestyle in a house worth more than £1 million. ‘He then had the cheek to use the proceeds of this fraud to repay a confiscation order imposed on him. Rather than repay the public purse, he chose to steal from it.’ HMRC officers searched Farrell’s £1 million mansion on June 5, 2013 and found more than 24 mobiles, laptops, memory cards and false passports which they seized. A bag containing a laptop, paperwork relating to the bogus companies, prepaid credit cards and phone sim cards was found hidden in the eaves of the £1 million mansion, while a false driving licence in the name of “Andrew Strachan” containing Farrell’s picture was discovered on an electronic device recovered. Farrell was arrested and charged after interview on the same day.
Phones seized from the home of John Farrell (Picture: PA)
Photographs and phone contracts seized from the home of John Farrell (Picture: PA)
HMRC said he stole £180,591.20 by claiming VAT repayments for several bogus companies between 2011 and 2012. He laundered £75,000 of the stolen money through the bogus Cypriot company account before using it to pay part of the confiscation order. Authorities are seeking a first of its kind Serious Crime Prevention Order (SCPO) against Farrell for when he leaves prison. If successful, it would be the first to be imposed on the back of a HMRC conviction in Scotland. Michael Mullen, 41, an associate of Farrell’s, pleaded guilty to owning or controlling registered addresses for false businesses to facilitate the commission of VAT fraud last month. Mullen, from Cambuslang, South Lanarkshire, was sentenced to a Community Payback Order and a Restriction of Liberty Order at the same court on Monday.
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