Business consultant jailed for 60k VAT fraud case

A business consultant who held a position with a Boston housing trust has been jailed for 15 months for a £60,000 tax fraud.

Lincoln Crown Court was told how Roger Ede, a former trust member at Boston Mayflower, fiddled VAT over a two year period using a series of companies he was involved with at a hearing last Friday.

Ede, 52, a former school biology teacher, of Sleaford Road, Tattershall, denied three charges of fraudulently obtaining VAT repayments but was convicted following a jury trial earlier this year.

The charges related to UK Soap Co Ltd, Soma Vita Ltd and Alpha Canis Ltd on dates between 2009 and 2011.

Recorder Gareth Evans QC said: “You struck me as an arrogant, thoroughly dishonest man. You tried to persuade a jury that black was white. You still maintain your innocence and there is no remorse on your part.”

A jury heard how in a series of transactions Ede sold trademarks valued at £150,000 from one firm, UK Soap Co Ltd, to another firm Alpha Canis Ltd. No VAT was paid by UK Soap Co Ltd but Alpha Canis reclaimed VAT on the same transactions.

Alpha Canis was a company Ede had set up to channel payments for work he did for UK Soap Co Ltd, of which he was also a director.

Ede later told HMRC investigators that he believed he acted legitimately as he thought UK Soap Co Ltd had time in which to pay the tax and it could be done in the ‘wrapping up’ of the company’s affairs when it was dissolved.

Ede carried out further transactions between his companies which defrauded the HMRC in a similar way.

In an interview with the investigators Ede said “I thought declarations like that could be dealt with up to three years later. I thought I was acting wholly legitimately.”

Ede said he went into business believing he and his associates had ideas which could “produce a millionaire lifestyle” but that never happened and he was reduced to existing on hand outs from friends and relatives to pay for his living expenses and the £600-a-month rent on his home.

“I always believed we were a step away from a big pay-out,” he said.

Michael Rudd, defending, said the companies were legitimate businesses and had not been set up for the specific purpose of defrauding the tax authorities.

He said the offences occurred at a time when Ede had financial problems after his credit card was withdrawn.

Mr Rudd said: “It was a lapse of judgement. He wasn’t living a champagne lifestyle.”

Mr Rudd said that Ede had resigned from a number of positions he held, including his roles with Skegness Academy, the Boston Mayflower Trust, the Friends of Holy Trinity in his home village, and from the education committee of the Institute of Biology.