Joel Muckett 2 Jan 2018 03:04pm

HMRC reveals top 10 cases of 2017

The Revenue took a variety of tax cheats and fraudsters to court last year, including millionaires, accountants, data thieves, organised criminal gangs and a fake spy

Fraud investigations by HMRC resulted in 762 individuals being convicted, with sentences totalling more than 1,000 years. Additionally, the Revenue charged suspects in more than 1,000 new cases of tax fraud.

One of the most bizarre cases on the list saw a company director, who stole more than £1.6m in tax while pretending to work for the US Secret Services, jailed for four years.

In another, six men were jailed for a total of 45 years for convincing wealthy individuals to invest in fake environmental projects. The scheme was revealed to be a £108m fraud following a 10-year investigation.

Two wine smugglers also found their way onto the list for avoiding £46.5m in tax payments. Livio Mazzarello and Louisa Mbadugha were sentenced to a combined 17.5 years in prison after they lied about the quantity of imports and sales figures to evade excise duty and VAT.

“Tax evasion is rightly seen as unacceptable – it is stealing money from the public services we all rely on and undermines honest business people,” said HMRC fraud investigation service director Simon York.

“But as these cases show, HMRC continues to successfully defeat a wide range of tax crime and bring the culprits to justice.”

York promised that “hundreds more” tax fraudsters would be tried for criminal offences in 2018.

Last year, HMRC saw a record £569.3bn tax take, aided by taxes targeting wealthy individuals, including Stamp Duty Land Tax and inheritance tax.

In November, research revealed that fraudulent activity cost the UK £190bn annually, which is equal to £7,200 per household and more than the GDP of 148 countries.