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Businessman jailed for £500,000 VAT fraud lied about selling £4 million of clothes to Paris shops

A businessman who swindled the taxman out of half-a-million pounds in a sophisticated VAT fraud was jailed for two years.

A businessman who swindled the taxman out of half-a-million pounds in a sophisticated VAT fraud was jailed for two years.

Bulbinder Singh Sandhu (51) falsely claimed his firm, Isher Fashions, in Constance Road, North Evington, supplied £4 million worth of ladies’ clothes to a dozen small shops in Paris.

Leicester Crown Court was told an investigation revealed the sales – which he claimed were in cash – never took place.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) recruited the help of the French authorities and visited all the shops in Paris over the false invoices.

After submitting false invoices for VAT repayments, which netted him £500,000, Sandhu created a bogus handwritten cash book to support the lies.

Sandhu, of Swithland Lane, Rothley, admitted furnishing bogus VAT returns between January 2010 and January 2011.

He has since borrowed £500,000 from “friends and business associates” to repay all the money.

Judge Michael Fowler made a formal confiscation order in relation to the £500,000 and also ordered him to pay £6,200 costs.

The judge said: “There are sophisticated elements to the offence with the preparation of invoices and also a cash book to conceal the offence.”

Martin Hurst, prosecuting, said that Sandhu was a sole proprietor of Isher Fashions and operated legitimately for some time before he made the false claims of selling to French customers.

The court heard Sandhu was made bankrupt in July 2011, which was discharged the following year.

In 2003, he was banned from being a company director of a limited company for eight years.

He was jailed for five months at Southwark Crown Court last October for breaching the order, by being in control of two other companies which went into administration owing several millions – and disqualified for a further 12 years.

Leonard Smith QC, mitigating, said: “Isher Fashions wasn’t set up for fraud and it was a long-standing successful business.”

Although banned from being a director, there was no restriction on him being a shareholder, and he invested in other businesses which collapsed when the “economic climate” changed in 2008 – leaving him in dire financial straits and concerned about providing the future life-long care needed for his severely disabled son.

Mr Smith said: “It was a huge part of his motivation to make money to ensure his son would be cared for, for the rest of his life.

“He’s appalled by what he’s done and is genuinely remorseful.”

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