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Bumper Crop of Tax Evaders

What have a “high-class” hooker, a CIS payroll provider and a railway planning consultant all got in common. No, the latter two were not clients of the first! Answer – they were all jailed recently for tax evasion.

The hooker

Donna Asutaits earned £1,000 a night as a 'high-class' escort by prostituting herself to wealthy businessmen. She was often paid in cash and also received gifts of high value jewellery.

Whilst the prosecution claimed that Asutaits had earned £870,000 over 5 years from her self-employed escort activities she successfully argued that the period of tax evasion lasted only 2 years.

Asutaits turned to prostitution to fund a master's degree at the University of Westminster.

Her ill-gotten gains enabled her to put down a £110,000 cash deposit on a £360,000 apartment in Knightsbridge, central London.

When police raided her home they uncovered cash approaching £80,000 together with valuable jewellery gifted to her by her clients.

Between April 2005 – January 2007, Asutaits earned more than £300,000, evading tax of £120,000. She failed to file any tax returns for most of her time as a prostitute. 

Miss Asutaits was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment and a proceeds of crime hearing will take place later in the year to recover some of the tax.

The defendant also denied one charge of money laundering £110,000 for two alleged criminals, and using deception to secure a £250,000 mortgage from the Birmingham Midshires building society after she pretended to be a racehorse consultant.

The payroll provider

Thomas Scragg's company, Moya Payroll, processed construction industry payrolls. Between 2002 – 2007, Scragg's embezzled £26 million in tax with a further £8 million of PAYE stolen in the period April 2007 – February 2008.

Even when he knew he was being investigated Scragg continued his fraudulent activities through various means.

Scragg's associates, Carl and Anthony Johnson lived extravagant lifestyles funded by around £2.4 million 'protection' money they received from Scragg. The pair claimed that their wealth was generated from a legitimate security business called Unit 11, although the company paid no tax.

At Birmingham Crown Court, Scragg of Solihull, was sentenced to 17 years in prison, one of the longest sentences of its kind in the UK.

The railway planning consultant

Stephen Ledsham, a 49 year old man from Hertfordshire, was handed a 15 month custodial sentence for evading income tax and NIC of more than £400,00 over an 11 year period.

In 1992, Ledsham formed a railway planning consultancy called Kallbond and earned in excess of £1 million on which no tax was paid.

Following a Freedom of Information request it has been revealed that HMRC's tax evasion hotline, set up in 2005, received nearly 300 calls each working day in 2011. This figure was however 9% down on 2010. 

 

By Andy Vessey

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