LIVERPOOL: A Liverpool couple who ran a pub and garage in the city have been jailed for a total of seven years for a £470,000 tax and benefit fraud. Members of the Knutsen family ran Chaplin’s Bar on Lodge Lane and a car repair garage on Hill Street, but failed to pay any VAT, National Insurance or Income Tax while also fraudulently claiming benefits.
The fraud was revealed during an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) into the family members:
• Bernard Knutsen, 68, who was jailed for four years;
• his wife Maureen, 62, wasjailed for three years; and
• their daughter Kelly Ann, 39, was jailed for 21 months suspended for two years.
Sandra Smith, Assistant Director, HMRC Fraud Investigation Service said: “This family thought they were exempt from the law. You cannot decide to ignore your tax obligations and not expect HMRC to take action. We are determined to maintain a level playing field for all local businesses and will not tolerate fraud like this.
“Tax evasion isn’t a victimless crime, tax fraud is theft from the public purse, it takes money out of public services that everyone in the UK relies upon. If you suspect fraud similar to this report it to the HMRC 24-hour Fraud hotline on 0800 788 887 or online via Gov.uk – search for ‘HMRC reporting fraud’.” HMRC investigators found Bernard Knutsen ran the Hill Street garage – which was known at various times as Able Testing, Hillside Services and The Service Station – and failed to pay any VAT, Income Tax or National Insurance. He did the same with Chaplin’s Bar, which he ran with the help of his wife Maureen. The pair failed to declare their income from the businesses when claiming various benefits.
Their daughter Kelly Ann received unexplained money from both businesses into her bank account. She also claimed benefit to cover her rent but failed to declare a second property she owned and rented out.
Family friend Gary Hyland, 50, was also involved in the fraud and was given a two-year community work order with 12 months supervision and a three month curfew for benefit fraud on 8 May 2017 at Liverpool Crown Court. He did not declare his rental income to HMR Cand the Department of Works and Pensions (DWP). The Knutsens were sentenced on 1 December at Liverpool Crown Court, confiscation proceedings have begun to recover the stolen tax.