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An Isle of Wight tax advisor who stole £52,000 by claiming tax repayments using his clients' names was jailed today at Newport Crown Court.
Howard Marcus Derham (49), who worked as a tax advisor and agent for twenty years, claimed tax repayments on behalf of Self Assessment customers from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), but failed to pass the money on. In some cases his clients were unaware that their tax returns had been submitted and had no idea they were due a refund until they received notification from HMRC.
John Cooper, HMRC Assistant Director Criminal Investigation, said:
"Hardworking taxpayers trusted Derham with their finances. Sadly he abused his reputation and position to commit tax fraud,
stealing from clients and the wider taxpaying public.
"We take this type of crime extremely seriously and ask anyone with information about individuals or businesses involved in tax fraud to contact the Tax Evasion hotline on 0800 788 887 or online at www.hmrc.gov.uk/tax-evasion."
Derham did not have a lavish lifestyle but when he began to run into financial difficulty monies that should have been paid to his customers began to cover his debts. HMRC's criminal investigation started after complaints were received from some of his clients.
Derham pleaded guilty to five of the ten counts of Income Tax fraud he was charged with and asked for another 28 offences to be taken into consideration. He was jailed for six months.
Upon sentencing His Honour Judge Ralls QC said:
"This was a systematic dishonest fraud affecting a large number of individuals who entrusted you to obtain refunds due to them."
Derham, who operated on a 'no win no fee' basis, mainly represented clients from the construction industry. In his more legitimate trading days he would charge clients 15 per cent commission on monies refunded by HMRC.