AN ACCOUNTANT from Sheffield who tried to explain away a £100,000 tax fraud as his own incompetence has been sentenced to jail, suspended for a year.
Disgraced Christopher Jefferies, aged 61, of Lawson Road, Broomhill, admitted panicking after making a series of errors advising clients on property tax affairs.
He tried to cover up his mistakes by faking information and documents for VAT repayment claims on his clients’ property deals.
But his scheme fell apart when investigators from HM Revenue and Customs discovered he had produced false invoices to reclaim more VAT on behalf of his clients than they were entitled to.
HMRC assistant director for criminal investigation, Peter Hollier, said: “Jefferies abused his professional position to commit fraud, assuming his knowledge would mean he could get away with it. Fraud of this nature, by someone who is supposed to understand and advise on getting taxation right, is disappointing.
“As an accountant he was well aware of the rules and was naive to think he could simply bend them to claim whatever tax he wanted.”
Jefferies had advised his property-developer clients that they could reclaim the VAT on recent commercial property ventures.
He later admitted to investigators that, after making a series of errors, he panicked.
Worried that his clients would not get the payments they were expecting, he simply made up his own invoices and created false documents to fit the circumstances.
Jefferies was first interviewed last April, and later pleaded guilty at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court to being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of VAT.
He was sentenced to 26 weeks in custody, suspended for a year, and ordered to carry out the maximum 300 hours’ unpaid community work.