THE FINAL member of a gang of fake metal traders led by Stafford kingpin Michael Bostock was jailed yesterday.
Jesse Penfold from Guildford, Surrey, was the last of the crime syndicate responsible for fraudulently claiming £1.5million in VAT refunds to be put behind bars.
Bostock, formerly of Penzance Way, was sentenced to five years for his part in the crime to in May 2012.
He had previously been acquitted on a kidnapping charge in 2009 but was already in prison after pleading guilty to 77 counts of contempt of court in October 2011.
Under the false names John Bull and John Ball, Penfold and the other eight gang members – all sentenced after trials in May 2010 and May 2012 – claimed to trade internationally in scrap metal between the gang’s companies – Shavondra in Cyprus and IED Ltd in the UK – while, in reality, the goods never left the UK but were diverted to another UK scrap yard.
False sales and purchase invoices were created to show the supposed shipment of metals to Ireland, and to Cyprus via Belgium with False export paperwork used to justify zero-rating for VAT purposes, allowing them to retain the VAT charged instead of paying it to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
37-year-old Bostock used his business, Electrical Distributors Ltd, based in Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme, as a front for the gang’s operation.
He drove a fleet of flash cars, including a Mercedes McLaren, a Ferrari Scaglietti and a Lamborghini Gallardo and lived in a house valued at £1.4 million.
Gary Lampon, Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation, for HMRC, said: “Penfold is the last member of this criminal gang to be sentenced for operating a criminal network of companies supposedly trading internationally in large quantities of scrap metal.
“By creating false paperwork and claiming to move consignments of nickel, tin and copper between UK scrap metal yards, and later from Austria to the UK, they were able to claim back VAT that they weren’t entitled to.
“This was a highly sophisticated fraud which has involved a lengthy and complex investigation, but we will not be deterred from pursuing those behind such crimes so justice can be served.”
Around £193,000 in cash was seized during the investigation under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and has since been returned to public finances.