A TRAINEE accountant has been sentenced for stealing more than £30,000 in VAT.

Keiron Edmondson, 35, of Campbell Court, Blackburn, created fake invoices between two businesses to fraudulently reclaim VAT, a HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigation found.

Trainee accountant Edmondson submitted 12 phoney invoices from his company Blocks Toy Store to his wife’s business Cakealicious Cakes, for non-existent work such as website design, agency workers and managerial services.

Edmondson – who was part way through his accountancy qualifications – then reclaimed £30,952 VAT through his wife’s business, submitting the forms through the firm he worked for.

Tim Atkins, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:

“Edmondson abused his financial knowledge, his employer’s trust and the public purse. He cooked up a batch of fake invoices to steal from the taxpayer, and now has a criminal records to show for his greed.

“VAT fraud steals money from vital public services such as schools and hospitals – this money is equivalent to a year of dialysis treatment for a kidney patient on the NHS. I urge anyone with information about VAT fraud to contact HMRC online or call our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”

HMRC investigators found that Edmondson had transferred the stolen money between his and his wife’s bank accounts on multiple occasions, in an attempt to hide where it came from.

Edmondson admitted VAT fraud and money laundering and was sentenced to 12 months for VAT offences and eight months for money laundering, suspended for 18 months, at Preston Crown Court on Thursday 11 October. He must also complete 200 hours of unpaid community work within the next 12 months.

Proceedings have begun to reclaim the stolen money.

Information about any type of tax fraud can be reported to HMRC online at https://www.gov.uk/report-an-unregistered-trader-or-business.