The owner of three Brighton shops has been jailed for four years after he pleaded guilty to a £1 million tax fraud.
Peter Davis, 58, had a company called Formula 1 Teamwear Ltd, selling F1 merchandise, and ran three shops in Brighton.
The shops were Paddock Club, in Queen’s Road, another branch of Paddock Club, in Bond Street, and Attitude, also in Bond Street.
He also owned similar shops called Wheels of Sport, in London, Liverpool, Glasgow and Cardiff and a website – as well as an Italian restaurant called Salerno’s, near Tower Bridge, London.
Davis, who lived in Woodyates Road, in Lee, south east London, was jailed after he carried out a sophisticated scam, fraudulently claiming more than £960,000 in tax repayments.
He walked away from a string of failed businesses leaving rent and rates unpaid and customers out of pocket or needing to submit claims to their credit card providers.
After pleading guilty to evading VAT (value added tax) Davis was jailed at Southwark Crown Court on Friday (20 July) by Judge Michael Hopmeier. He was also banned from running a company for seven years.
Judge Hopmeier told Davis: “These were serious, sophisticated frauds carried out over a long period of time, by deliberate dishonesty and virtually from the start of trading.
“Offences of this nature – fraud on the revenue – are not victimless. Government and public services are funded by tax. This means hospitals, schools, roads and benefits are all paid for by tax.
“Stealing money from public funds means less money for these services.”
After Davis was jailed, Daren Cooley, assistant director of the Fraud Investigation Service, said: “Davis lied over and over again to steal taxpayers’ money to help fund his businesses and lifestyle.
“He foolishly thought he could carry on cheating the public by setting up new businesses built on a house of cards.
“Tax fraud isn’t a victimless crime. Not only is it stealing from UK taxpayers, it takes away money needed for the vital public services we all rely on.
“Anyone with information about tax fraud should report it to HMRC online or contact our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”
Revenue and Customs said that confiscation proceedings to recover assets from Davis would now begin.