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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 November 2007, 16:51 GMT
Preacher jailed over 51m fraud
Malcolm Edwards Sayer
Malcolm Edwards-Sayer carried out his scam over an 18-month period
A lay preacher who bought himself a lordship has been jailed for 10 years for a 51m VAT scam and stealing from personal injury claimants.

Malcolm Edwards-Sayer, 49, from Bramcote, admitted eight counts of conspiracy to cheat the public revenue.

An investigation by HM Revenue and Customs uncovered the "carousel fraud".

But Nottingham Crown Court also heard eight other defendants walked free due to what the judge called "comprehensive failures" by the prosecution.

Edwards-Sayer manipulated the VAT system pretending to import mobile phones, computer chips and sat nav equipment, claiming back VAT every time the goods supposedly left the UK.

The goods in question never actually existed and the scam carried on over a 10-month period.

He was jailed for six-and-a-half years for the fraud and a further three-and-a-half years for stealing 18,000 from injury claimants passed on to him by Claims Direct, a charge he also admitted.

In addition, Edwards-Sayer was banned from running any type of company for the next 12 years.

VAT pocketed

The court heard that Edwards-Sayer set up a number of companies from his home, importing the imaginary goods from EU countries without VAT - and then sold them on with VAT added through a chain of companies.

After being sold on a number of times, the equipment - which in fact existed only on paper - was then exported back to the EU.

The companies would then go missing before the VAT inspectors had the chance to get the cash.

You were diligent and dedicated in your dishonesty
Judge Jonathan Teare

Having bought himself a Lordship, Edwards-Sayer set up an offshore bank account in the name of Lord Houghton to siphon off money.

At the time of his arrest Edwards-Sayer was lecturing in law at South East Derbyshire College and was also a part-time lay preacher with the Diocese of Southwell.

Passing sentence, Judge Jonathan Teare said: "You were diligent and dedicated in your dishonesty."

He added: "People who enter into this sort of conspiracy only do so because they expect the rewards to be spectacular, and I have no doubt that this was both your expectation and your desire."

But Judge Teare said he realised Edwards-Sayer had not led the scam and was a "facilitator rather than an organiser".

'Main player'

He said: "Comprehensive failures to disclose material by the prosecution led me to the conclusion that, in respect of eight other defendants, it would not be fair to try them or they could not have a fair trial."

Speaking outside the court, Jennie Kendall from HM Revenue and Customs admitted being "disappointed" but said: "We have a main player within this crime behind bars and we will continue with our work to bring those involved in this form of criminality to justice."

In a statement, the Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office (RCPO) confirmed it was the prosecuting authority in the case and added: "Where there are lessons to be learned from how a case has been handled, Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office will take these lessons on board and apply them in future proceedings."

How Edwards-Sayer manipulated the VAT system

The conman who duped the taxman
29 Nov 07 |  Leicestershire

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