A company director, who funded his hobby racing high-powered sports cars in races across Europe through a £450,000 tax scam, has been jailed.
Simon Atkinson was already under investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for anti-money laundering offences when officers unearthed the six-figure tax fraud, which he used to finance his passion for racing Lamborghinis in competitive motor tournaments.
The 54-year-old, of Shantock Hall Lane, Bovingdon, raced at tracks including UK’s Brands Hatch and Belgium’s world-famous Spa circuit in the Supercar Challenge, and entered the 24-hour Series Barcelona race twice and the Maxi Endurance 32 hour in Portugal’s Algarve.
Kath Doyle, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “Atkinson was thinking only of himself as he stole from the taxpayer to fuel a life in the fast lane across Europe, funding his ambitions as a racing driver with money that should have been going into our vital public services.
“Now his scam has well and truly hit the skids and not only has he been put behind bars, he also has to pay back all the stolen money. It proves tax crime doesn’t pay.
The tax fraud came to light after Atkinson’s halal poultry processing company, IHP Ltd, was investigated for failing to comply with anti-money laundering regulations. When analysing the company’s records, investigators discovered that Atkinson had falsified invoices, asking companies to invoice his personal motor racing expenses as business costs.
Investigators found multiple invoices, dated between 2011 and 2015, listed as ‘transportation’ and ‘engineering services’. In reality these invoices were for high-end motor car servicing. In 2011 he even paid for a racing Lamborghini, claiming the cost of the racing car as a legitimate business expense under machinery costs.
He funded his motor racing by fraudulently claiming the costs as business expenses, receiving £112,186 in VAT repayments, and evading £338,630 in Income Tax.
At Luton Crown Court on July 20, Atkinson pleaded guilty to two counts of failing to comply with money laundering regulations and two counts of cheating the public revenue. He has since paid back most of the stolen money and on Monday (December 17), at the same court, he was jailed for three years and four months. He was also ordered to pay back the remaining £30,125 within 42 days and to pay £1,901 in costs.
IHP Ltd were fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £1,000 in costs. Atkinson was a company director of IHP Ltd until May 2018. The company was subject to investigation and pleaded guilty to two counts of failing to comply with money laundering regulations.