Jonathan Lennon KC and Graeme Hall secure acquittal of accountant accused of VAT fraud
Jonathan Lennon KC and Graeme Hall, instructed by Kevin McGrath of The Smith Partnership represented M who was to face trial at Sheffield Crown Court earlier this year. M was an accountant who submitted a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) in 2011 to HMRC about a suspected VAT fraud that was to be committed by one of his clients. The SAR was not acted upon and M’s company duly continued to act for the client. HMRC then arrested and charged the client with VAT fraud and in 2021 charged M with conspiracy to evade VAT. As so many years had passed, evidence that M had informed other professionals of his suspicions and seeking advice on how he ought to act, were no longer available. An abuse of process argument was mounted by the defence relying on HMRC’s failure to check their own law-enforcement databases and thus conduct a proper investigation in a timely manner, as well as the abuse that arose from the duty to protect SAR informants, rather than prosecute them. The Crown indicated shortly before the argument was to be heard that it would not proceed to trial against M.
No evidence was offered against M at Sheffield Crown Court in July 2023.