[A] “DECEITFUL and manipulative” fraudster has been jailed for a VAT fiddle totalling almost £50,000.
For almost three years, company director Maxine Brooks filed bogus tax returns for a cleaning business she owned – Maxiclean (UK) Services Ltd – despite it having ceased trading.
A dozen fake returns were submitted electronically and generated VAT repayments. More than £44,000 was paid into bank accounts which Brooks, of Armathwaite, near Carlisle, either controlled or had access to. A further £5,000-plus repayment she claimed was withheld amid a probe which uncovered her crooked conduct.
The 55-year-old initially denied defrauding Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), between February, 2014, and November, 2016, but pleaded guilty part-way through a jury trial.
Prosecutor Nicola Carroll told Carlisle Crown Court how Brooks made a series of “fantastical” claims as she “spun a very large web of deceit”. As she tried to open bank accounts, and communicated with the HMRC, she boasted of an “Oxbridge degree”, that she had worked as a barrister for many years, served both MI5 and MI6, and been made an MBE for “fighting crime”.
Brooks – described as having a “vulnerable personality” and “complex medical history” – was jailed for two years today. She was also banned from acting as a director or being concerned in the management of any company for eight years.
“In my judgement you are a thoroughly deceitful and manipulative person,” Judge Peter Hughes QC told her. “This was a calculated course of fraudulent conduct.”