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Self-styled ‘Del Boy’ who applied to be on TOWIE and listed Bentley and Maserati as company expenses jailed for £5.8million VAT fraud

A tax cheat who compared himself as ‘Del Boy’ and applied to appear on The Only Way is Essex was jailed for five years today after conning the taxman out of £5.8million.

  • Michael Woodward, 29, called himself ‘Del Boy’ on TOWIE application form
  • Said he loved ‘designer clothes’ and ‘looking after those closest to me’
  • Jailed today along with ‘best friend’ Richard Ponsford, 36, for tax fraud
  • Paid Ponsford for fake consultancy work, before Ponsford handed cash back
  • This reduced on-the-book earnings, allowing him to dodge corporation tax

Michael Woodward, 29, who applied to be on the ITV show in 2010, was cheating the government out of money, while using his ill-gotten gains to buy a fleet of luxury cars.

Woodward passed thousands of pounds in profits off to co-defendant Richard Ponsford, 36, for non-existent ‘consultancy services’, before Ponsford handed the money back, minus his cut.

This made his company profits look relatively small, meaning he was charged less corporation tax than he should have been by HMRC.

Woodward used the profits to live a plush lifestyle, and when he was arrested in March 2011 he had a blue Bentley, a white Range Rover and a white Land Rover Discovery parked in his drive.

He boasted of ‘loving designer clothes’ and lives in an Essex home worth more than £400,000.

In his application to reality soap TOWIE Woodward named Ponsford as one of his closest friends.

He also describes himself as a wheeler dealer ‘Del Boy’ character who loves designer gear.

‘If you don’t ask you don’t get so I have a lot of front (love to negotiate and save £££),’ he wrote.

‘Look after those closest to me. Generous and caring. Love my designer clothes.’

Woodward also owns an English Bulldog breeding company called Woody Couture.

He submitted tax returns with supercars including a Maserati V8 and a Bentley listed as business expenses.

Woodward, who supplied labour to Balfour Beatty and London Overground, pulled off the seven year corporation tax scam with the help of ‘best mate’ Ponsford.

Giving evidence at Southwark Crown Court, Woodward insisted his ‘crooked’ father, who appointed him as director of the ‘Westview Rail’ firms when he was just 18, duped him into the fraud.

But a jury convicted Woodward and Ponsford of cheating the public revenue, and Judge Michael Gledhill QC sentenced the pair to five years in jail each.

Woodward’s firms include Westview Rail Limited Westview Rail LUL Limited, Westview Rail Protection Services Limited and Westview Resources Limited.

The companies boasted a turnover of millions of pounds each year.

They provided labourers to repair and renew tracks to large rail contractor companies including Balfour Beatty and London Overground Rail Operations Limited.

Ponsford was the sole director of several companies but he had no employees, no company offices and the businesses were slammed as merely a ‘vehicle for fraud’.

They were Network 24 Finance Ltd, Network 24 (consultants) Ltd, Twentyfour/7 Consultants Ltd, Adventure Developments Ltd and Manor House Projects Ltd.

Woodward attempted to explain away the lack of contracts between the companies as a ‘gentleman’s agreement’.

Prosecutor Timothy Godfrey said: ‘The two defendants, Mr Woodward and Mr Ponsford, acting together over a period of some seven years pursued a fraudulent scheme – a fraud whereby they evaded £5.8million of tax.

‘In short what it concerned was the companies run by the first defendant Mr Woodward very significantly understating their profits and this meant of course that the companies as a result were taxed on an unduly favourable basis.

‘The profits of companies run by Mr Woodward being under-declared, falsely represented to the tax man and therefore the tax position was fraudulently advantageous to the defendants.’

Woodward evaded paying £4,373,105.84 of corporation tax and Ponsford earned at least £352,184 from the scheme.

Woodward also evaded paying £1,469,005 of VAT in respect of refunds for cash he said he had paid to Ponsford’s companies on bogus invoices.

He used the excess cash as ‘untaxed money in the back pockets among members of his immediate family’ and company employees.

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