A SOUTH Yorkshire fraudster who gambled millions of pounds and lived a life of luxury after setting up fake companies to falsely reclaim VAT has been jailed for over three years.
Patrick Nelis, aged 25, led the life of a successful businessman after setting up fake companies which he claimed traded in rebated fuels such as red diesel and Liquid Petroleum Gas, for which suppliers can reclaim VAT costs.
But the companies were shams, used to create fictitious fuel transactions so Nelis could exploit the VAT system for profit.
The former salesman, who has been jailed for three years and four months, was caught out by HM Revenue and Customs in September 2009 when checks revealed he had supplied fake invoices and receipts.
When officials checked with some of the firms he claimed to have dealt with, they had never heard of him.
Nelis, of Sanders Way, Dinnington, registered RP Fuels and R&P Fuels to a property on Redwall Close, Dinnington, ST Travel to an address in North Anston, and CC Fuels Ltd to premises in Burton on Trent.
He admitted £700,000 VAT fraud at Leeds Crown Court.
Peter Hollier, HMRC’s Regional Director for Criminal Investigation, described his crime as “brazen fraud” and added: “This crime was motivated by greed. Nelis thought he had found a way to exploit the VAT system and tried to fool everyone into thinking his business was legitimate.
“He even attempted to charm HMRC officers with tales of how successful his businesses were and reams of customer invoices.”
Nelis, who was made bankrupt in 2007, kept fake records which alleged daily deliveries of fuel, and the supply of millions of litres to customers across the UK.
Nelis also employed ‘front men’ to run the companies on his behalf, in an attempt to distance himself from the fraud.
One accomplice – Craig Chamberlain, aged 35, of Astil Street, Burton on Trent – was jailed for 12 months after pleading guilty to helping to falsify paperwork in order to illegally claim back VAT for one of the fake companies.