Man guilty of six-figure construction tax fraud jailed

A man has been jailed, and three others handed suspended sentences, for their involvement in a £250,000 construction tax fraud conspiracy in Northern Ireland.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) said the four were charged after its investigators found false claims for tax repayments of £260,455.68 had been submitted to the HMRC Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) between January 2015 and September 2017.

Edward Copeland, of Manse Park, Carryduff, pleaded guilty at Antrim Crown Court to conspiracy and was jailed for two years. He was also ordered to pay a £150,000 confiscation order.

HMRC found that Copeland used two businesses to exploit the scheme, under which contractors deduct tax from payments to subcontractors that should then be passed on to HMRC.

Deborah Ramsey, of Newbuildings, Londonderry, who also pleaded guilty to conspiracy, was sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for three years.

Michael Donaghy, of Carnanreagh Road, Claudy, was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, for conspiracy.

Stephen Fagan, of Horn Drive, Belfast, was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, after he pleaded guilty to converting criminal property, contrary to Section 327 (1) (c) of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

Lucie Irving, assistant director of the HMRC fraud investigation service, said: “The majority of individuals and businesses pay the tax that is due – however, there remains a determined minority like Mr Copeland who refuse to play by the rules.

“HMRC is on the side of the law-abiding majority. By tackling the most serious forms of tax crime, we are creating a level playing field for businesses and citizens. We are determined that they shouldn’t be disadvantaged or impacted by the criminal actions of others.”

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