Brahan Golf Club owner's £150,000 VAT fraud sentence deferred at Inverness Sheriff Court
A GOLF professional who bought his own golf course and then pocketed over £150,000 in VAT has had a jail sentence deferred so he can build a fence.
Jon Wiggett was due to learn his fate at Inverness Sheriff Court on Monday. But his lawyer, Mike Chapman, asked Sheriff Sara Matheson to allow his client to keep his freedom for a little longer to safeguard his wife, Claudia’s, accommodation.
Mr Chapman explained that the land on which Brahan Golf Club, outside Conon Bridge, is situated was leased from the Brahan Estate.
The lease also included the Wiggett’s house, which is run as a bed and breakfast by them.
Mr Chapman said: “He needs time to get his affairs in order before a likely custodial sentence is imposed.
"The land will be returned to grazing for a local farmer but extensive fencing is required and my client has to provide it.
“Since he has no money to pay someone, he has to do the work himself which will take three to four weeks and then that will allow his wife to continue living in the house and running her business.”
Sheriff Matheson agreed to postpone dealing with Wiggett until April 14.
At an earlier hearing, the court heard that 50-year-old Wiggett admitted fabricating VAT returns with false invoices and defrauded the Inland Revenue of £154,091 between November 2013 and January 2017, paying the money into his own account.
Depute fiscal Karen Aitken said the case was highlighted to HMRCs Individual and Small Business Compliance Department as part of a Repayment Taskforce because of the volume of VAT repayments that Wigget had received.
“HMRC officers based in their Inverness office contacted Jon Wigget in February 2017 to arrange to visit his premises to inspect his books and records on April 25, 2017.”
Wigget was present and various documents were given to compliance officers in order to substantiate the figures on the VAT submissions.
The documents were reviewed and ultimately referred to the Fraud Investigation Service in HMRC.
The golf club premises were searched on October 17, 2017 and various items relating to the business were seized along with a laptop computer.
Investigations later revealed that invoices were fraudulently created and a subsequent examination of the laptop by officers revealed that the invoices were stored there.