The director of a liquidated wholesale mobile phone company based in Oxford has been banned from running a company for 12 years for his part in a VAT fraud scheme, which was revealed following investigations by the Insolvency Service.
Expeditors Limited former director, William Robert Howard (45), was given the ban after it was found that the mobile phone company he ran participated in a form of VAT fraud known as Missing Trader Intra Community fraud (MTIC).
The mobile phone business was incorporated in 2004, but 13 years later a petition was made to wind up Expeditors Limited in June 2017, following an unpaid VAT bill of £22,545.40.
Prompted by the amount of VAT owed, the Insolvency Service exposed William Howard who used the scheme to offset VAT and reclaim close to £350,000 in the company’s 2005 to 2006 VAT return.
MITC fraud, also known as ‘carousel’ fraud, sees large consignments of high-value goods invoiced rapidly around trading chains.
By using this method the goods look like they are being moved from trader to trader but instead the goods are only moved as they enter or exit the UK.
During its investigation, the Insolvency Service found a rapid succession of same-day trades within the UK made by Mr Howard’s business, but goods were never delivered and remained on a shared freight forwarder.
The IS investigators also found common uses of the same offshore bank, as well as payments being arranged with third parties who were neither suppliers nor customers.
The bank used by the traders – First Curacao International Bank – was shut down by the Netherlands Antilles authorities in September 2006 to prevent money laundering.
Anthony Hannon, Official Receiver in the Public Interest Unit of the Insolvency Service, said:
“This type of VAT fraud is very serious and a high priority for HMRC and the Insolvency Service.
“MTIC fraud has caused loss to the public purse and has cost the taxpayer substantial sums in fraudulent VAT claims. The Insolvency Service is committed to making directors accountable for their actions.”
William Howard is disqualified from promoting, managing, or being a director of a limited company until 2030.