Ryan Bembridge

March 4, 2016

Michael Bolton has been sentenced to two years in prison after being found guilty of committing a £130,000 VAT fraud however he has allegedly bolted from the UK.

The former chief executive of Clayton Euro Risk and sub-prime lender Edeus didn’t appear for the trial or sentence, with the judge suggesting he is in Spain. He was unavailable for comment.

Should he return to the UK he will be liable for immediate arrest and imprisonment.

Bolton (pictured) avoided paying £130,000 in VAT by using false VAT numbers in relation to £900,000 worth of invoices without passing the money on to the revenue.

Judge Graham Cottle, who addressed an empty dock at Exeter Crown Court, said: “You were providing banking and mortgage strategy services to two separate companies who you billed to the extent of £900,000.

“You did not account for the £130,000 VAT and used VAT numbers from two organisations with which you had links. You were not registered for VAT in your own name until this investigation started.”

Bolton told investigators he had paid money in cash to a Swiss accountant called Paulo Greener before jumping bail. The judge said he didn’t exist.

Cottle added: “You used bogus numbers, so you issued what were in effect forged documents. You provided a bogus explanation of having paid cash to a man called Paulo in Switzerland who had failed to pass it on to the revenue.

“In effect, you are now on the run and your exact whereabouts are not known, although it is believed you may be in Spain. You are quite clearly a fraudster. This was carried out over a period of time with some sophistication.”

Bolton carried out the fraud while running MB Consulting and Bolton Capital Structures, while Clayton Euro Risk employed Bolton as a consultant until October 2014.

Clayton Euro Risk was unaware Bolton had used fake VAT numbers.

Colin Spinks, assistant director of the HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service, said: “This was deliberate attempt to defraud the public purse by Bolton.

“He chose to pocket the VAT he charged on invoices using different company identities. Our investigations unravelled the invoice trail and cloned VAT numbers he used to steal public funds. Today he has been paid back for his dishonesty with a jail sentence.

“If you know of anyone who is committing tax fraud you can report them by calling our 24-hour hotline on 0800 59 5000.”

Ian Fenny, prosecuting, said Bolton was liable to pay VAT on the “eye watering” fees he charged for professional services but instead used VAT numbers from two other businesses including his former accountants.

Fenny said: “We always suspected he would not attend for his trial but Bolton was given bail and unfortunately our cynicism was well founded.

“We have been unable to trace any assets in this country. Bolton is married to a Brazilian and may have property in Brazil. The revenue are also aware of contacts in Gibraltar but we are unable to recover any realisable assets.

“This was a substantial fraud on the revenue but the money has clearly been dissipated and we cannot see any creative method of retrieving it.”

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