A London pensioner who hid in a wardrobe to avoid HMRC officers investigating a £0.5m VAT fraud has been jailed for four and a half years.

Michael Kelly, 73, company director of  International Trade Centre (UK) Ltd of Dulwich, made false VAT repayment claims totalling a staggering £500,000 over a six-year period.

Mr Kelly claimed his company exported white goods and motor vehicles to Africa. In fact the company only made six small-scale exports in four years. Should the company have genuinely made the transactions they claimed, a VAT fraud would still have resulted.

Michael Kelly denied the charges but was found guilty of cheating the public revenue and sentenced to jail and a six year ban from acting in the position of company director.

David Margree, assistant director at HMRC, said:

“Michael Kelly was brazen in his attempts to obtain huge sums of money by fraud. He was less forthcoming, however, when our officers arrived to search his home. He was found hiding in a wardrobe in a vain attempt to avoid detection.

“Our enquiries revealed that Kelly had persistently submitted utterly fraudulent VAT repayment claims. We will continue to investigate fully and take the strongest possible action against those who defraud HMRC and law abiding individuals.”

Let this be a warning to all as we approach the Self Assessment deadline, there is no where to hide from the all powerful tax man.