An obstructive accountant from Harrow has been hit with a bumper £25,000 fine in a historic prosecution.
Anil Shah became the first person to be prosecuted by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for failing to comply with a tax fraud investigation when he was sentenced on Wednesday (October 5).
Shah, from Stanmore, refused to help HMRC officers who were investigating suspected tax evasion by his clients, despite being served with the legally binding documents.
The Disclosure Notices, which require individuals to share paperwork and information with HMRC when part of a criminal investigation, were ignored by the 66-year-old.
When challenged by investigators, he made a number of statements that were found to be totally untrue. This included claims he did not act for the clients, when in fact he did.
Shah, from Carisbrooke Close, had pleaded guilty to failing to comply with a Disclosure Notice by making a false or misleading statement in July this year.
He was given the fine at the Old Bailey and warned he had 28 days to pay the fine or face 18 months in prison.
Simon York, from HMRC's fraud investigation service, said: "As a professional accountant Shah’s role was to offer sound advice to his clients and comply with HMRC regulations.
"Instead he abused his privileged position, knowingly broke the law, and failed in his professional duties.
"HMRC is determined to clamp down on financial crime. This result sends a clear message to anyone who is considering trying to cover up tax fraud – nobody is beyond our reach."
During sentencing, Shah was told by His Honour Judge Topolski QC: "You said you only dealt with payroll and bluntly you lied in response to this disclosure notice.
Kristin Jones, head of the specialist fraud division at the Crown Prosecution Service, added: "Anil Shah was an accountant who abused his position as a professional adviser and hid his clients’ criminal actions from the public eye.
"This case demonstrates the repercussions of a refusal to cooperate with the authorities."
Two of Shah’s clients were jailed for seven years in 2015 for a £1.2 million VAT fraud.
A further trial of a number of his, now, former clients recently concluded and they are due to be sentenced on October 20 at Southwark Crown Court.