Peter Charles Duffield, 62, from Orpington, ran two profitable businesses - a 50-fleet haulage business in Essex and a shooting club in Dartford - but didn’t submit a single tax return on his earnings, including profits from the sale of three properties.
The investigation found that gun-enthusiast Duffield had failed to declare his earnings despite his bookkeeper and accountant urging him to do so. When he was arrested at his home in June 2015, he told investigating officers that he hadn’t submitted his Self Assessment tax returns for the last seven years because he wasn’t a “paperwork person”. This was despite a prior warning from HMRC under civil legislation to keep his tax affairs in order. Arresting officers also seized more than £20,000 in cash found in his car and wardrobe.
The fraud was uncovered by an HMRC property taskforce, set up to identify those who avoid paying tax on property transactions. Duffield hadn’t paid capital gains tax on a property he’d sold, breaching an earlier agreement that gave him the opportunity to get his tax affairs in order.
HMRC officers discovered that while Duffield had kept meticulous business records, and ensured that his bookkeeper and accountant were notified of all receipts and earnings, he never signed or posted the tax returns they prepared on his behalf, claiming that he thought they had submitted the paperwork.
Officers discovered Duffield had spent the stolen tax on extravagant lifestyle expenses, including mortgages on two properties, family holidays to Marbella, Rolex watches, investments in phosphate mining in Iraq, a gun collection and at least nine vehicles. Among the vehicles he owned were six Land Rovers, some with personalised number plates. The total value of his tax fraud is £1,364,813.26.
Paul Barton, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:
“Duffield could have avoided jail, and was given every opportunity to get his tax affairs in order. However, despite warnings and advice from professionals, Duffield showed a blatant disregard for the tax system and funded a lavish lifestyle at taxpayers’ expense.
“Duffield thought he was above the law, but he was wrong. If you know of anyone committing tax fraud you can report them by calling our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”
His Honour Judge Gordon commented on sentencing that, “you knew full well what your obligations were. Your evasion was deliberate and dishonest, choosing instead to do the bare minimum and then only when backed into a corner”.
A confiscation hearing to recover the proceeds of his crime will follow.