Two pharmacists found guilty of VAT fraud
Two pharmacists have been jailed for a total of six and a half years after fraudulently claiming VAT repayments relating to the export of life-saving cancer and HIV medicines to Nigeria. The pair had a contract with the NHS to operate a prescription service to the public but they created false invoices for the drugs they claimed to export, to support fraudulent VAT repayments.
Paul Barton, Assistant Director, Criminal Investigation, HMRC, said:
‘This was a blatant attack on the tax system. Their only aim was to line their pockets at the expense of the taxpayer. They thought they could get away with providing false records to claim VAT refunds, but they are now counting the real cost of their criminality.’
Both pharmacists were charged with Cheating the Public Revenue contrary to Common Law. Benedict Babundo, a locum pharmacist was found guilty and sentenced to four years in prison and disqualified as a company director for seven years. Louis Ovonlen was the director and senior pharmacist of Addison Healthcare (UK) Limited and was sentenced to 30 months in prison and disqualified as company director for four years.
Recorder Ian Glen said on sentencing Babundo:
‘You embarked on submitting false claims and only stopped when HMRC reviewed the business in 2011. The fraud was driven by you, without any doubt, you have a long list of company failures. For tactical reasons you kept your distance – employing others to do your work.’