Fugitive tax fraudster from Sheffield jailed after fleeing to Cape Verde
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Matthew Balme, aged 49 and formerly of Orchard Crescent, Ecclesfield, fled the country to avoid standing trial for VAT fraud but has been returned to the UK from Cape Verde and jailed for two-and-a-half years.
Balme was the company secretary for Evoke Music UK Ltd and used false documents to reclaim £26,000 of VAT repayments he was not entitled to.
He was due to stand trial for his crimes in 2018 but he fled to the Cape Verde islands in the Atlantic Ocean and refused to return to the UK.
The trial continued in his absence and he was convicted and sentenced to two years and six months in prison.
Balme was tracked down and returned to the UK to begin his jail term by officers from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
Timothy Atkins, Assistant Director of HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service, said: “Balme stole taxpayers’ money and thought he could escape punishment for his crimes, but he was wrong.
“We continue to work closely with UK and international partners to relentlessly pursue absconders and ensure they face justice.
“We encourage anyone with information about tax fugitives or tax crimes to report it to HMRC online.”
HMRC worked with the Crown Prosecution Service, Home Office, Interpol and Cape Verde authorities to secure the return of Balme.
Balme was returned to the UK on March 3 and appeared at Sheffield Crown Court via video link the following day, where his two year and six-month prison sentence was confirmed.