He pocketed £200,000

A Dorset yacht broker who charged £210,000 VAT on the sale of six luxury yachts and then pocketed the cash has been jailed.

James Williams, 51 was found guilty on six counts of cheating the public revenue and one count of false accounting. He was sent to prison for three years.  

John Cooper, HMRC Assistant Director Criminal Investigation said:
“Williams used his position as director of a yacht brokers to commit VAT fraud. He sold boats which had previously been supplied VAT-free for export to the Channel Islands, but failed to account for the VAT on their subsequent sale in the UK. This blatant attack on the tax system not only robbed the Exchequer of public funds, but is also unfair to those businesses that diligently abide by the rules.

“Tackling VAT fraud is a priority for us and we will not hesitate to pursue those who commit this type of offence. Anyone who has information about suspected VAT fraud can call the Customs’ Hotline on 0800 59 5000 or email customs.hotline@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk”

HMRC investigators discovered that Williams charged VAT to UK customers, but failed to pass the money to HMRC on six occasions. This fraud totalled £209,225.10. The total VAT inclusive price of the six motor cruisers was £1.4 million (£1,404,998.60).

Williams also falsified a sales invoice, in the name of another company, that suggested an inflated amount of VAT had already been paid on a motor yacht. This invoice was fabricated to make it appear that VAT had been charged on the sale of the vessel.

Upon sentencing at Bournemouth Crown Court, His Honour Judge John Harrow said:”This was a deliberate and calculated attempt to deprive the Revenue.”

Williams’ business ‘Fairline Dorset Limited’ was VAT registered between August 2005 and November 2007. HMRC VAT officers became suspicious of the company’s financial activity because although Williams received around £32,500 in VAT reclaims, and charged and collected VAT from UK customers, no output tax was declared to HMRC.  

Williams used the proceeds of this crime to fund a seemingly comfortable lifestyle. He sent his children to private school and bought and renovated a 44 foot yacht ‘Siri’ based in Portland Harbour, Dorset. The yacht has since been sold.

HMRC are pursuing confiscation proceedings.