Two businessmen who carried out a VAT fraud were handed jail sentences at Lincoln Crown Court on Wednesday.
Fictitious VAT returns were submitted for Lincoln Car Sales Ltd, based in Moorland Way in the city, for almost six years based on figures invented by Craig Williamson.
Williamson, who did the book-keeping for the firm, later confessed to making up the figures and the accounts for the company were described as “shambolic”.
Lisa Hardy, prosecuting, said that Williamson was also involved in submitting false VAT returns for the Lincoln franchise of the lettings agency Martin & Co which was run by Mark Creswell.
An investigation began in 2014 which revealed that Williamson had stolen £35,000 from the lettings agency and when HMRC carried out a full check on his financial affairs they went on to uncover the VAT frauds.
Mrs Hardy said: “The investigation began in May 2014. Investigators from HMRC attended at the business premises of Lincoln Car Sales in Moorland Way.
“Craig Williamson told them that the last VAT return was inaccurate and it was all in a lot of a mess. He also admitted he had done the admin work for Martin & Co.
“It was very clear he was not keeping proper records at all. At Lincoln Car Sales there wasn’t any kind of financial system.
“Documents were seized and the investigators were able to unravel what had been going on.”
When Williamson was later interviewed he admitted submitting 23 false VAT returns in relation to Lincoln Car Sales.
Miss Hardy said: “He admitted he had concealed cash payments from customers.”
The investigations revealed that Williamson also submitted false VAT returns on behalf of Martin & Co over a six year period.
Craig Williamson, 43, of Crowtrees Lane, Brighouse, West Yorkshire, admitted being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of £179,000 of VAT by submitting false VAT returns for Lincoln Car Sales between October 2008 and April 2014.
He also admitted fraudulent evasion of £13,700 of VAT by submitting false returns for Martin & Co between June 2008 and July 2009.
Williamson, who also admitted fraudulently claiming £17,356 of tax credits over a 10 year period between 2005 and 2015 by failing to declare his true income. He was jailed for 18 months.
Mark Alan Creswell, 52, of The Green, Ingham, admitted being knowingly concerned in the evasion of £148,000 of VAT by allowing the submission of false VAT returns between June 2008 and August 2014.
Creswell also admitted evading paying £16,581 of income tax between April 2009 and April 2014 by failing to declare his true income. He was jailed for 12 months.
Judge John Pini QC, passing sentence, said the delay in bringing the case to court was “lamentable”.
He told the two men: “There have to be immediate custodial sentences.”
Philip Barnes, for Williamson, said that he was initially arrested for theft of £35,000 from Martin & Co and has since served a 20 month jail sentence for that matter.
“At the point this offending took place he was a man of good character.
“He was defrauding both the Revenue and his co-defendant. It was more due to persistence rather than sophistication.”
Mr Barnes said that following his arrest Williamson moved out of the area and after serving his prison sentence has done his best to turn his life around.
He added that Williamson had repaid £10,900 to the Revenue which was all the money he had available.
James Gray, for Creswell, said his client has repaid all the money which he defrauded from the Revenue using his savings and by remortgaging properties he owns.
“He was shockingly inept as a book keeper. He and Williamson were both shambolic when it came to accounting and keeping paper work.
“He allowed himself to be drawn into temptation and without Williamson this offending would never have happened.”
Mr Gray said that Creswell was a hard-working man who has shown remorse for what he did.