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Tax fraud 'denies public services' says HMRC in wake of Ross-shire court case involving golf pro at Brahan

By Hector MacKenzie

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THE case of a golf professional based in Ross-shire who was jailed for tax fraud after getting into difficulties with his business has been highlighted as an example of "a serious crime" that ultimately has an impact on public services by the organisation whose investigation uncovered his wrongdoing.

Jon Wiggett (51) of Conon Bridge, submitted 13 false VAT repayment claims between 2014 and 2017, an HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigation found.

The owner of Brahan Golf club tried to back up his fraud with dozens of fake invoices which he presented as proof for buying a lawn mower, hundreds of bottles of herbicide and sand mixture for his club, Inverness Sheriff Court heard. The PGA progessional was arrested in October 2017 and pleaded guilty to VAT fraud at Inverness Sheriff Court in February 2020.

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 revealed that invoices were fraudulently created and a subsequent examination of the laptop revealed the invoices were stored there.

Last week, he was sentenced to 15 months in jail.

The case was highlighted to HMRC's Individual and Small Business Compliance Department as part of a Repayment Taskforce because of the volume of VAT repayments that Wiggett had received.

Cheryl Burr, assistant director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: "Wiggett stole the equivalent of five police constables’ salaries in Scotland. This was money that should have been funding vital public services.

“Tax fraud is a serious crime and I ask anyone with information about those who may be involved to call our fraud hotline on 0800 788 887 or contact us online.”

Anyone with information about people or businesses involved in tax fraud can contact the HMRC Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887 or visit here.

Related: Golf professional jailed for 15 months

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