Payback Time for Jailed Accountant
Former chartered accountant Christos Charalambous has been ordered to pay back £2.4m following his conviction in July 2010 for tax fraud. If he does not pay the money back within 10 months, he faces an extra eight years in jail.
Charalambous, 60, is currently serving an eight-year prison term after he was convicted of submitting over 6,000 fraudulent Self Assessment tax returns on behalf of his clients. He was found guilty at Blackfriars Crown Court on six counts of Cheating the Revenue of £11.2m on 29 June 2010 and sentenced to eight years. He included fictitious expenses claims on the returns and never showed clients what information he had included.
He would then receive the repayments from HMRC, deduct a minimum of 15% as a fee and then repay the remainder to his clients, who would not question the amount refunded as they trusted him to complete the returns correctly.
He also understated the income he received from client fees on his personal tax returns and failed to register, declare and pay VAT due on his accountancy firm, Charltons. The total amount of repayment claimed by Charalambous was £11.2m HMRC is recovering the rest of the money from former clients who were given the fraudulent tax rebates. Robert Alder, assistant director criminal investigation at HMRC, said: 'We are determined to make sure that crime doesn’t pay. This is money that belongs in the public purse, and this confiscation order will ensure it is returned. This clearly shows that tax evasion and claiming fraudulent tax repayment does not pay.'
In November 2005, Charalambous was excluded from the ICAEW for failing to co-operate with the Inland Revenue. At the time of his arrest, he was the sole proprietor of Charltons Accountants.