£1m tax fraudster given jail sentence

Lytham businessman Simon Price who has been jailed for three years and four months.

Lytham businessman Simon Price who has been jailed for three years and four months.

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A Lytham company director has been jailed after pleading guilty to falsifying documents to reclaim more then £1m in tax.

Simon Price, 45, of Regents Avenue, Lytham, admitted two charges of cheating the public revenue and nine counts of making or supplying articles for use in fraud.

He also pleaded guilty to a further 16 counts of supplying articles for use in fraud, all at an earlier hearing.

His fellow director John Smith, 45, of Catforth Road, Catforth, was convicted by a jury at Manchester Crown Court on all but one charge of making or supplying.

The pair were childhood friends who went into business in 2003 for the development of land at Ashton Methodist Church under the name Ice Blue Developments, with offices on Cottam Lane in Ashton.

They took on developments in Bartle, the Living City site on Walker Street and secured a £3m contract for 20 apartments in Kirkham with New Fylde Housing.

Dad-of-three Smith was also the managing director of Jack Smith Builders, which carried out a number of building projects for Ice Blue.

But during a routine inspection by HM Revenue and Customs in March 2010 concerns were raised about the company’s VAT returns.

The case was passed over to be investigated in August and in September the following year Smith and Price had their homes and offices searched, with Price’s laptop seized.

Documents were found which suggested they had falsified invoices to claim VAT which was not owed, resulting in more than £1m being paid out to them between September 2008 and December 2009.

Price was sentenced to three years and four months in prison and disqualified from being a company director for six years.

Smith was sentenced to 42 months in prison and placed on the company director disqualification list for five years.

Simon De Kayne, assistant director of criminal investigation at HM Revenue and Customs, said: “This pair made incredibly crude attempts to falsify invoices and financial guarantees in a circle of fraudulent transactions. It was a complete cut and paste regime that unravelled as soon as HMRC officers investigated their business activities.”

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