Company director jailed after VAT fraud to finance custody fight

Ipswich Crown Court. Picture: ARCHANT

Ipswich Crown Court. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: ARCHANT

An Essex gym director who carried out a £70,000 VAT fraud to pay his legal costs in a custody battle has been jailed for 28 months.

Steven Corbersmith, who was running the SLC Health and Fitness Club in Walton-on-the-Naze created false invoices to obtain VAT refunds over a three year period, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Jailing 42-year-old Corbersmith and disqualifying him from being a company director for six years, Judge Rupert Overbury said he had used the money he obtained from the fraud to pursue a case through the family courts.

“There are hundreds or thousands of people across the country who have cases before the family courts each year who don’t resort to fraud to pay for their legal costs,” said the judge.

Corbersmith, who has a care of address in Maidstone Road, Felixstowe, admitted fraud by falsely representing that VAT returns were genuinely due from the Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs during a period between February 1, 2013 and May 3, 2016

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Barry Gilbert for Corbersmith said his client had committed the fraud to finance a custody battle in the family courts and hadn’t spent the money on high living.

HMRC investigators found that Corbersmith, who had moved to Spain, edited invoices from legitimate businesses to create templates for his own fraudulent invoices, which he then used to support his false claims.

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Steve Bowling, assistant firector of the Fraud Investigation Service at HMRC, said: “Corbersmith thought he could fund the lifestyle he desired using taxpayer money but he was wrong.

“HMRC will pursue those who seek to gain an unfair advantage over legitimate taxpayers and businesses.

“Tax fraud is not a victimless crime, it deprives vital public services of much needed funds, harming the honest majority.

“I would urge anyone with information about tax fraud to report it to HMRC online or contact our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”

Proceedings are now underway to recover the money.

SLC Health and Fitness Club Ltd was not subject to the criminal investigation or court proceedings.

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