17 tradesmen sentenced as part of £643k HMRC investigation ‘Project Dobbin’

The last of 17 tradesmen who cheated UK taxpayers out of a combined £643,000 has been sentenced as part of a HMRC investigation.

Aleksandr Gebski, 55, of Park Avenue, Loughborough, is the last person to be sentenced. The investigation looked into a number of tradesmen including welders, sheet metal workers and electricians from the East Midlands.

Failure to declare income

Grebski and the other 16 committed tax fraud by failing to declare their earnings, in some cases dating back as far as 1999.

HMRC discovered the fraud when a series of discrepancies appeared in the accounting of local tradesmen, several of whom knew each other. They were all working for the same company but were classed as self-employed contractors.

Despite their status as self-employed, all 17 failed to register with HMRC for Self Assessment - the process by which the self-employed pay their income tax and NI contributions.

Custodial and suspended sentences for the cheats

Eight of the defendants, who failed to pay a combined £476,267 over 17 years, were all given immediate custodial sentences. The other nine defendants all received suspended prison sentences.

Two of the defendants, 57-year-old Paul Stevenson and 52-year-old Steven Nash, account for over £190,000 of the fraud just between the two of them, having illegally withheld over £90,000 each.

The word from HMRC

Brett Wilkinson of HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service said: “This was a group of individuals who decided to keep taxpayers’ money that should have been funding vital public services.

“As self-employed traders in the construction industry, they believed it was a quick way to make easy cash, with little risk of getting caught - but they couldn’t have been more wrong.”

The prosecution of Gebski brings and end to that particular scam, and Wilkinson went on to say how the series of trials was proof that HMRC is ‘levelling the playing field’ for honest tradesmen and that the custodial and suspended sentences should be a warning to anyone thinking about committing tax fraud.

Do you think the sentences are fair? Let us know below.

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