Former secretary jailed for £12m VAT fraud

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The Independent Online

A former secretary who funded a luxury lifestyle on the proceeds of a £12 million VAT fraud has been jailed for 10 years, according to Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

Jayne Mitchell, 40, bought Ferraris, luxury properties and went on lavish shopping sprees with the cash she made from the huge tax fraud involving the importation of vehicles from across Europe, HMRC said.



Mitchell, along with six others, imported more than 7,000 new vehicles which they sold on through a complex web of fake companies with a turnover of more than £80m in two years.



Revenue officials said the cars were imported VAT free, passed through a chain of fake companies, and eventually sold on to unsuspecting car supermarkets and dealerships across the UK.



But many of the fake companies disappeared without paying the VAT due on the sales.



The companies were spread around England including some based in Selby, North Yorkshire; Pudsey, West Yorkshire; Walsall, West Midlands and in Northamptonshire.



Mitchell, who was originally from Selby, had a luxury home near the North Yorkshire town and another in Belgium, where she was arrested.



She once worked as a secretary and is a well-known pigeon fancier.



Mitchell, of Wilsden Road, Allerton, Bradford, was found guilty today at Bradford Crown Court of conspiracy to cheat the public revenue.



She was jailed for 10 years by Judge Jonathan Durham Hall.



According to the HMRC, he said: "This fraud was both brazen and meticulous with ruthless attention to detail.



"You manipulated all and any for the pursuit of your own ends. This was a massive, deliberate and determined attacked on the UK VAT system and a gross example of cheating the public revenue."



Tammy Copson, 38, of Rowley Street, Walsall, West Midlands; Peter Green, 45, Moorside, Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire; Steven Hague, 49, of Beacon Road, Bradford, West Yorkshire; Russell Bakewell, 47, of Walnall Road, Landywood, Great Wyrley, Staffs; Reginald Turner, 62, of Broadway Well, Walsall; and Wayne Murden, 47, Abelwell Street, Walsall, have all admitted the same charge.



They will be sentenced on December 3.



Peter Hollier, Regional Director, Criminal Investigation for HMRC, said: "This was a professionally organised, sustained attack on the UK tax system.



"This crime group had gone to great lengths to facilitate this fraud which saw them 'steal' more than £12 million from the UK's economy.



"This fraud allowed Jayne Mitchell to live a luxurious lifestyle; she bought Ferraris, lavish properties, designer accessories and champagne lunches by stealing £12 million of taxpayers' money, money which could pay the annual salaries of around 450 NHS nurses."



Mr Hollier said one of the gang's contrived companies received more than £65 million in bank credits while another raised invoices for more than £4 million in just four months. At the height of the fraud one of the companies imported and sold more than 1,200 cars in just one month.



The HMRC said Mitchell had now been made bankrupt.