Dundee businessman jailed for 18 months over £166,000 VAT scam
An international businessman has been jailed for 18 months for conning the taxman into paying him more than £166,000 in VAT repayments.
Dundee Sheriff Court heard Brinner Sabando told HMRC that his firm, Dundee-based Fresca Ltd, had made a loss after spending almost £1.4m on stock and equipment.
But tax officials found he had only paid out £250,000.
Sheriff Elizabeth Munro jailed Sabando for 18 months.
In total, the Ecuadorian national claimed £166,757.46 of VAT repayments for which he was not entitled.
Dundee Sheriff Court was told that the cash had been paid into accounts that Sabando - who used the false name of Brinner Rossi Veritini - had access to.
Fiscal depute Trina Sinclair told the court: "He incorporated the company in 2008 trading from premises in Bellfield Street, Dundee. In October 2009 he submitted a VAT return for a period in 2009 showing a refund was due.
"It showed the total value of purchases exceeded sales and meant a substantial loss for the company. HMRC officers visited and spoke to the accused and were given records by him to justify the claim.
"Closer scrutiny raised concerns about the authenticity of the documents and subsequent enquiries showed they were false. The business suddenly closed and the landlord of the property said they had been there for two years and had vanished."
The court heard how Sabando committed the offences at addresses in Dundee's Bellfield Street, Bath Street in Glasgow and Fairies Road in Perth.
Sabando, from Dundee, pleaded guilty to being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of VAT by submitting false claims to the taxman, a charge brought under the Value Added Tax Act.
No personal gain
His co-accused, Callum Reid, 27, from Forfar, had his not guilty pleas to the charges accepted by the Crown.
Sabando also had not guilty pleas accepted to an allegation that he submitted false claims to the value of £141,504 in the name of Fresca Ltd and 12BE Consultancy Ltd, and of attempting to pervert the course of justice.
Jack Brown, defending, claimed Sabando "had not personally benefitted" - but had used the cash to keep his business afloat.
He added: "It was a successful business until it hit difficulties with cash flow. He embarked on this to keep the business going and the staff in employment.
"Things were becoming too much and the fraud was exposed, causing the business to go down. There was no significant benefit to him personally."
Jailing Sadando, Sheriff Munro said: "There are no Scottish sentencing guidelines for this type of case - but the English guidelines suggest a sentence of between two and four years.
"In the circumstances I will restrict the sentence to two years, modified to 18 months to take into account your early guilty plea."