Harlow pharmacist from Purford Green jailed over VAT fraud

Communities / Thu 31st Jul 2014 am31 10:17am

TWO pharmacists, who lied about exporting life-saving cancer and HIV medicines to Nigeria, have been jailed for six and a half years for fraudulently claiming £300,000 in VAT repayments.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigators found that pharmacists Benedict Babundo and Louis Ovonlen, of Addison Healthcare (UK) Ltd, who ran a Harlow pharmacy, had a contract with the NHS to operate a prescription service to the public. But they created false invoices for the drugs they claimed to export, to support fraudulent VAT repayments.

Louis Ovonlen (44) of Purford Green, Harlow was found guilty and sentenced to 30 months in prison and disqualified as company director for four years.

Ovonlen was the director and senior pharmacist of Addison Healthcare (UK) Limited. Evidence showed he made or permitted fraudulent claims for the repayment of VAT to be made on behalf of the company and creating and/or providing false evidence in support of those fraudulent claims.

Paul Barton, Assistant Director, Criminal Investigation, HMRC, said:

“This was a blatant attack on the tax system. Their only aim was to line their pockets at the expense of the taxpayer. They thought they could get away with providing false records to claim VAT refunds, but they are now counting the real cost of their criminality.”

They obtained falsified documents to help make their fake export business look legitimate by appearing to show that the medicines had been exported.

louisRecorder Ian Glen said on sentencing Babundo:

“You embarked on submitting false claims and only stopped when HMRC reviewed the business in 2011. The fraud was driven by you, without any doubt, you have a long list of company failures. For tactical reasons you kept your distance – employing others to do your work.”

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