A fraudster who stole nearly £1.9 million of taxpayers’ money to fund a lavish lifestyle, including buying three Spanish villas, has been jailed for five-and-a-half years.

Graham Drury, 69, of Strathalyn, Rossett, Wrexham, stole almost £1.9m by submitting fraudulent VAT returns to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

The claims were made through his company, Drury Machine Sales Ltd, to cover VAT payments made on machinery that was never purchased.

Drury used the stolen money to buy several properties; one in the UK and three villas in Spain which he regularly visited on holiday.

Drury was arrested on 13 January 2019 and subsequently charged with VAT fraud totalling £1,897,221.

Steve Doyle, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:

“Drury stole vital taxpayers’ money to fund a lifestyle well beyond his means and now he is paying the price with a prison sentence. Our action does not stop here as we will work to recover this stolen money.

“Tax fraud is not a victimless crime as it is stealing from the public purse, which helps fund services like the NHS. We encourage anyone with information about VAT fraud to report it online or call the Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”

Suspicions were first raised by HMRC officers when Companies House records showed Drury’s printing and packaging machinery business was making a profit, as this did not match the information submitted in fabricated VAT returns.

Drury claimed to have bought machinery from businesses, but despite not receiving the goods, he would claim the VAT back from HMRC.

Drury pleaded guilty to VAT fraud at Mold Crown Court on 2 August 2021 and was sentenced to five-and-a-half years behind bars the following day.

Confiscation proceedings are underway to recover the stolen money.

By Elkanah Evans

Elkanah studied Art & Design at Coleg Sir Gar before enrolling on a degree in Media, Film and Communication at Aberystwyth University. He is working on Ceredigion Online as our local correspondent.

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