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Nine sentenced after construction tax fraud

Nine men from the North-west have been sentenced to a combined 102 months in jail – the majority suspended – after an organised tax fraud involving the Construction Industry Scheme.

James Lee Roberts (pictured) was jailed for three years at Liverpool Crown Court earlier this week.

The unemployed 27-year-old, of French Street, Widnes, claimed on tax returns to work in construction and, according to HMRC, attempted to steal £46,986.80 for the tax years 2013/14 and 2014/15.

He is said to have made multiple amendments to his tax returns and used partner Natasha Sinnott’s bank account to launder some of the repayments.

Eight other men, who worked or claimed to work as subcontractors including painters, decorators, builders and roofers, received suspended sentences from the court.

They all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to fraudulently evade income tax, contrary to S1(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977.

In total the nine tried to steal £300,000.

Ms Sinnott, 22, of O’Neill Street, Bootle, was sentenced to four months’ jail, suspended for 12 months, for money laundering on behalf of others in the fraud.

Two men are due to be sentenced next week: James Rutherford, 31, of Brookbank Court, Kirkby, and Vincent McCluskie, 45, of Ash Grove, Seaforth.

Under the Construction Industry Scheme, contractors deduct money from subcontractors’ payments and pass it to HMRC.

The HMRC has launched 140 taskforces since May 2011, targetting specific sectors and bringing in more than £500m.

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