The boss of a mobile phone wholesaler has been banned from being a director for participating in a £1m missing-trader fraud, according to an announcement from the Insolvency Service.
Fiaz Razzak Malik, a director of Firma Consulting Limited, was disqualified by the High Court for 13 years after "participating in contrived transactions with a view to gaining VAT refunds of over £1m", the government agency said.
HMRC and the Insolvency Service view missing-trader fraud – where large consignments of high-value goods are invoiced rapidly and repeatedly around trading chains – as a "strain on the public purse". They claim the ruse, sometimes known as carousel fraud, has cost the UK taxpayer "many billions in unpaid VAT".
Critics have in the past claimed HMRC's attempts to crack down on firms in the chain have been heavy handed and have penalised innocent bystanders.
Malik's disqualification follows a probe by the official receiver in the Public Interest Unit, a specialist team of the Insolvency Service, which got involved when Firma Consulting Limited was wound up in 2013 over £646,768 HMRC claimed it was owed.
According to the Insolvency Service, Malik was a director of the Slough-based mobile phone wholesaler – which had previously gone by the names Office Designs Ltd and Parts Trading Ltd – at the time it engaged in these fraudulent activities.
"This type of VAT fraud is very serious and a high priority for HMRC and the Insolvency Service," said Paul Titherington, official receiver in the Public Interest Unit.
"The Insolvency Service is committed to making directors account for their actions."
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