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Verdict on Cornwall couple's £100k VAT tax fraud on alpaca farm

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Verdict on Cornwall couple's £100k VAT tax fraud on alpaca farm

Date of alert:

Crime Ref:

Force:

Friday, 13 May 2022

Devon & Cornwall Police

A couple that claimed refunds worth £100,000 for an alpaca trekking business and mixed farm in Somerset have been found guilty of fraudulent evasion of VAT.

Caroline Beech, 54, and her partner Patrick Ancill, 66, defrauded HMRC of thousands of pounds by "playing the VAT system" over six years, even though their trekking business was actually an empty field.

During their trial, the court heard how the couple had never paid any VAT on the farm but claimed rebates in every quarter by telling HMRC that they had made allowable purchases.

The prosecution told the court how Ancill claimed over six years that his sales were £39,000 but his purchases were £429,000 – and he claimed VAT refunds on those fake operating loss figures, and had £70,000 paid into his account by HMRC.

Beech also registered her alpaca trekking and egg selling business – which operated from the same 4.5 acre field that Ancill owned near Wells, Somerset.

She said her business sales were £19,000 over six years and her purchases were £214,000, and her false accounting figures saw her get a £36,000 VAT refund.

The couple's defence argued that, by 2012, Beech's business had failed and she had handed over the business paperwork to Ancill, which he admitted, claiming that she had knowledge of VAT returns after 2012.

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