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Business

Print firm directors involved in £3.1m fraud

The directors of former Basildon-based print firm, Anton Group, have been given prison sentences for their involvement in a £3.1m fraud scandal.

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The HMRC conducted an investigation into the eight-year fraud

Over eight years, Stephen Knight (67), John Knight (74), Brian Thomas (70), Paul Murphy (57), and Phillip Sach (53) took part in a complex fraud that involved keeping cash sales of waste paper and sharing the proceeds.

This resulted in the pocketing of £3.1m of Corporation Tax, Income Tax, VAT and National Insurance Contributions (NIC) – all of which was taxpayer’s money.

An investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) found that over the years, the directors cut staff and their own pay, and informed employees that this was to assist with cash flow and keep the business running.

Commenting on the case, Adam Kingsgate, assistant director of Fraud Investigation Service for HMRC says: “This was a high value and complex fraud involving a group of callous fraudsters who had no care for the impact of their crimes on others. They were complicit in almost running the business into the ground and leaving hundreds of people without jobs.”

This was a high value and complex fraud involving a group of callous fraudsters who had no care for the impact of their crimes on others

Instead of forfeiting up to £5,000 of their own income each month, the directors were taking large amounts of taxpayer money for themselves.

HMRC found around 90 forged invoices amounting to £1.4m in the company’s accounts which had previously been declared as payments to suppliers. These were in fact divided up into the director’s own bank accounts.

On Friday January 31st the group were sentenced at Southwark Crown Court for their roles in the fraud.

Phillip Sach received ten months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months; Paul Murphy received two years imprisonment, suspended for two years and was also disqualified as a director for three years.

The factory floor of the collapsed Anton Group

Brian Thomas was sentenced to 28 months imprisonment and was disqualified as a director for four years; Stephen Knight was also sentenced to 28 months imprisonment and was disqualified as a director for five years.

John Knight, who the investigation found to be the ‘ring-leader’ or main facilitator of the fraud, received three years imprisonment and was disqualified as a director for seven years.

Kingsgate adds: “HMRC is committed to taking action all those who steal from the public purse. Fraudsters who use sophisticated methods to hide their criminal proceeds should know that we are more than a match for them. No tax evader is beyond our reach.”



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