Tax  

Self-styled tax adviser jailed for £150K fraud

Self-styled tax adviser jailed for £150K fraud

A self-styled tax adviser, who had no accounting qualifications, was branded a ‘parasite’ by a judge and sentenced him to four-and-a-half years’ in jail.

Leib Paul Berger, 53, also known as Lawrence Goldberg, hijacked identities of traders to falsely claim £150,000 in tax repayments from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

South African-born Berger succeeded in claiming £66,000 and laundered the proceeds through bank accounts, with accomplice, Seema Haider, from Edmonton, North London, who let him use her address and company bank accounts to facilitate the fraud.

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Berger was extradited back to the UK to face justice in February.

HM Revenue & Customs had obtained two warrants for his arrest after he absconded to Spain, failing to repay £1.5m he’d stolen through another tax fraud between 2004 and 2007 when he lived in London.

Mark Cox, assistant director of the fraud investigation service at HMRC, said: “Berger thought he could resurrect his failed tax scam and get away with it this time – but he was wrong.

“He was abusing the tax system and depriving public services of vital funding to line his pockets. HMRC is making sure that crime doesn’t pay and no matter where you run we will find you.

“Tax fraud is not a victimless crime, it affects us all.”

On 25 September 2017, Berger admitted his latest crimes and was given a further four-and-a-half years in jail at Wood Green Crown Court on 26 October 2017.

Haider admitted cheating the public revenue and money laundering and was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, ordered to do 250 hours of free work and pay £4,200 costs.

Upon sentencing, Her Honour Judge Greenberg told Berger he was a “parasite, conman and fraudster.”

emma.hughes@ft.com