Man jailed after £350,000 fraud investigation

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A GANGMASTER who evaded more than £350,000 in tax has been jailed for 18 months.

Sukhninder Singh, 52, of Pennycress Drive, Thetford, was sentenced at Norwich Crown Court last Friday having pleaded guilty to cheating HMRC between April 2003 and October 2009.

Singh withheld tax, national insurance and interest payments estimated at £350,000 while running a labour provider business.

Sunrise Produce Limited recruited large numbers of workers to grow, harvest and market coriander in Norfolk.

The extent of Singh’s criminal activities came to light after joint raids in October 2009 by HMRC, the UK Border Agency and the Gangmaster Licensing Authority.

According to HMRC, Singh was charged after a ‘long and complex’ investigation.

Investigators uncovered a ‘smokescreen’ of companies and periods of self-employment that Singh had used in order to hide his illegal activities. He also leased land from local farmers to operate his agricultural business.

HMRC’s forensic accountant used seized documents and bank records to reconstruct Singh’s accounts and estimate the tax loss.

It was found that he had not filed a single tax, VAT or PAYE return during the company’s seven-year life span.

Singh pleaded guilty to fraud at a hearing at Norwich Crown Court on October 24.

He was jailed for 18 months and banned from acting as a company director for three years.

A confiscation hearing into seizing his assets has been postponed to a later date.

Graham Ranson, assistant director criminal investigation for HMRC, said: “We take fraud very seriously. Those involved in this type of activity give themselves an advantage over those honest businesses that play by the rules and that simply isn’t fair or legal.

“We will work closely with our colleagues in the police and other enforcement agencies to stop the damage that such activities cause.”

Anyone with information about tax fraud can contact the HMRC hotline on 0800 595000.