Head of closed firm convicted of VAT fraud

Topics: Criminal justice,Regulation and compliance

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A solicitor whose practice was closed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority last year has been convicted of evading VAT.

Caroline Joseph, formerly of London firm Hanover Property Lawyers, was sentenced to 21 months in prison, suspended for two years, for failing to pass on VAT she had charged her clients.

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According to an HM Revenue & Customs statement, Kingston upon Thames Crown Court heard that Joseph de-registered Hanover Property Lawyers for VAT in 2008 but continued to add VAT to clients’ bills until March 2013. She was charged with being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of VAT under the Value Added Tax Act 1994.

Confiscation proceedings to recover the proceeds of the fraud are under way. Joseph was also ordered to carry out 240 hours of unpaid work and pay £1,500 costs.

Anthony Swarbrick, assistant director, fraud investigation service, HMRC, said: ‘As a solicitor, Joseph knew the rules and her legal responsibilities, but chose to flout them thinking that she could continue operating her business under our radar and that the law did not apply to her. She will now have time to reflect on her actions.

‘Her reputation and professional standing are now in tatters.’

In August last year the SRA intervened into the sole practice of Caroline Joseph, formerly of 14 Basil Street, London SW3 1AJ, on the grounds that there was reason to suspect dishonesty on the part of Joseph in connection with her practice Hanover Solicitors.

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