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London accountant, Christos Charalambous, was jailed for eight years in July 2010 for tax fraud and has been given ten months to pay HMRC £2.4m or face another eight years in prison …

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have demanded that a fraudulent ex-chartered accountant pay them £2,462,175 otherwise his prison sentence will be doubled to 16 years.

Charalambous is currently serving an eight year prison sentence after fraudulently claiming £11.2m in tax between 1997 and 2008. He was found guilty on six counts of cheating the Revenue on 29 June 2010 at Blackfriars Crown Court.

Upon his sentencing in July 2010, Judge Richardson, said:

“The offences are more serious as you were a chartered accountant. HMRC ought to be able to trust you as should your clients. You exposed them to the dishonesty that you practice. With tax enquiries, you responded with evasion and lies.”

Charalambous claimed fabricated expenses of over £6,000 on his client’s tax returns, which he would then submit to HMRC without his clients having seen the ‘added’ information.

The fraudulent tactic allowed him to increase his client’s tax repayments, which once received Charalambous deducted a 15% fee for his services and handed out the remainder of the repayment to the client; most of which had moved abroad and had minimal understanding of the UK tax system.

Between 1997-1998 and 2004-2005 the ex-accountant evaded £807,406 by understating his client fee income on his own Self-Assessment tax returns. He also attempted to avoid paying £180,000 in VAT by failing to register his company – Charlton Accountants – for VAT purposes from 2000 onwards.

Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation at HMRC, Robert Alder, said:

“We are determined to make sure that crime doesn’t pay. This is money that belongs in the public purse, and this confiscation order will ensure it is returned. This clearly shows that tax evasion and claiming fraudulent tax repayment does not pay.

“Working with our colleagues in the Crown Prosecution Service, we are committed to bringing the criminals responsible for this form of crime to justice and deny them from being able to retain and enjoy the proceeds of their crimes.”

HMRC is now seeking to claim back the money that they are due and are trying to recover the rest of the £11.2m by chasing up Charalambous’s former clients who were given the fraudulent tax repayments by the jailed accountant.

Kevin Kinsella Jnr, of KinsellaTax, said:

“Absolutely crazy, no other words can describe this sort of behaviour. Also the clients should take some responsibility; it is not good enough to say I didn’t check the return.

“We had a number of very high profile clients whose defence to claims of false accounting was that they left it to the accountant, but some admitted they saw what they were doing as wrong and these were all high fliers with degrees and professional training. I had to remind them time and time again that if they appoint an agent they are still personally liable for their returns.

“As I say the high fliers were so used to day to day control over staff they did not want to face up to the fact that they were part of the fraud. I think the same responses will be said by Mr. Charalambous’s clients.”

Have you been a victim to tax fraud?

If HMRC have launched a tax enquiry into your affairs then you need to seek professional advice.

KinsellaTax staff consists of ex-HM Inspector of Taxes and ex-HM Custom and Excise Officers fully trained in all types of tax investigations.

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