A lay preacher who was jailed in 2007 for major VAT fraud has been ordered to pay back crime profits of nearly £1m to the tax payer.
Malcolm Edwards-Sayer, who worked as a lay preacher and law lecturer and bought the title of Lord Houghton to further the fraud, was sentenced to six and a half years at Nottingham Crown Court in November 2007 for failing to pay £51m of VAT for a number of deals done through his companies in the UK and Gibraltar.
Edwards-Sayer was described as the main player in the ‘missing trader’ scam, which involved the purported import of mobile phones and computer chips from a number of EU countries, VAT free. The goods would then be sold on at lower prices, but with VAT added, through a chain of companies.
Once the goods had been sold on a number of times, they would be exported back to EU countries. The companies would then default or go ‘missing’, before making their VAT repayments to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).
Eddie Jones, director of operations, criminal investigation, for HMRC said:
‘VAT fraud is a serious criminal activity which diverts vital resources away from our public services and into the pockets of career criminals.
‘We are effectively tackling VAT fraud. Confiscation Orders show our work, in partnership with the Revenue and Customs prosecution office, does not stop with the sentencing of those involved. We will seek through the courts to deprive criminals of any material gain from their crimes.’
While on remand, Edwards-Sayer received a six month prison sentence for Contempt of Court in October 2005 for 18 breaches of a restraint order. The breaches included using the accounts belonging to his parents.