Friday 22 September 2017

Ex-director faces sentencing for making false VAT returns

Kathryn Hayes

A FORMER company director who filed fraudulent VAT returns over a two-year period is to be sentenced next month.

Sean Hartigan, of Prestige Recycling Limited, who is now living on social welfare, was yesterday ordered to furnish a court with details of his assets, ahead of his sentencing hearing.

The offences, which involved filing incorrect VAT returns which amounted to a total discrepancy of €188,000 and false VAT repayment claims of €35,000, occurred on dates between September 2005 and February 2007.

Hartigan, of Prestige Recycling of North Circular Road, Limerick, which is now in liquidation, pleaded guilty at Limerick Circuit Court to six charges under the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997. The court heard that the firm provided labour to waste company Veolia to carry out the sorting and compacting of recycled waste.

The court heard that the prosecution's case was not that Hartigan had charged Veolia the incorrect VAT rate, but that he had received money which he did not account for, and that he had submitted VAT returns with nil on them when this was false.

When questioned by Revenue officers, Hartigan admitted that he had instructed his bookkeeper to file the VAT returns.

Repayment

Inspector of Taxes Fiona Phelan told the court there was a significant amount of money owed to the Revenue Commissioners and they have received no proposal regarding the repayment of the outstanding money.

Judge Carroll Moran was told that Hartigan, who entered an early guilty plea, has been in receipt of social welfare benefit since 2009 and is being represented through the free legal aid scheme.

Defence counsel Andrew Sexton said his client, who has no previous convictions, is living in a house in Carrigaholt, Co Clare, which is in negative equity.

He said that following the breakdown of his marriage, Hartigan was left with this property, but that the mortgage amount exceeded the value.

Mr Sexton said his client had genuinely "divested himself" of the family home and that he was not attempting to hide assets from the Revenue.

The prosecution asked that documentary evidence to support this claim be furnished to the court. Judge Moran agreed and adjourned the case for sentence on July 24.

Irish Independent

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