Property developer jailed for £25m VAT fraud

A Middlesex man who evaded £25m in tax by submitting false VAT repayment claims for 15 different companies has been jailed for eight and a half years after an investigation by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

Charles Victor Scarrott (61) who was the sole director of 15 property development companies, pleaded guilty to 15 counts of cheating the revenue at Kingston Crown Court and was sentenced to eight and a half years on each of the counts to run concurrently.

The investigation uncovered evidence that between 2003 and 2008, Scarrott submitted 178 fraudulent repayment claims totalling more than £25m. He provided false purchase invoices, bank statements and other business records to support the claims and used the proceeds of his crime to purchase luxury items which included:

  • £1m penthouse in Teddington, Middlesex
  • £500,000 holiday home in Dorset
  • Flats for his two children
  • £36,000 attending sporting events
  • £42,000 on private school fees
  • £40,000 on dental work
  • Over £80,000 on holidays
  • Maserati luxury car

When passing sentence, His Honour Judge Hopmeir said: “You played with high stakes, you have now lost and must pay the price. Those that cheat the Revenue cause direct and indirect damage to the community. Those that pay their taxes are effectively victims of those like you that cheat the system. As a result of careful and conscientious work by customs officers, your fraud has been detected.”

John Cooper, Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation for HMRC said:

“Scarrott stole from the pockets of innocent people and deprived the nation of vital funds needed for public services whilst funding his own extravagant lifestyle by claiming fraudulent VAT refunds. The sentence Scarrott received yesterday will act as a deterrent to anyone considering carrying out this type of crime. HMRC investigators will look to recover the profits made from these illegal activities.”

Confiscation of assets is being sought.