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Family lived high life at your expense in £45,000,000 tax scam

Family lived high life at your expense in £45,000,000 tax scam


Trips to Vegas, luxury cars, mansions in the UK and abroad and racehorses – it’s the life of a multi-millionaire.

But what if you found out that you’ve actually been paying for it all.

Well that’s what’s happened with the Copp family who have pilfered more than £45 million from the tax payer in a huge VAT scam.

Geoffrey, 56, brother Andrew, 50, and his son Joshua, 24, enjoyed ‘high living on a grand scale’ while employing foreign manual workers on minimum wage to maximise their income.

Between them the Copp trio owned at least four Bentleys, seven Range Rovers, three Lamborghinis as well as a Ferrari and four Mercedes.

Their business Central Payroll Specialists, later Quality and Premiere Services, provided payroll services to recruitment companies and issued invoices to their customers with a 20 per cent VAT applied.

They declared sales amounting to just under £20m when it was more than £250m and kept the VAT due.

Tax records showed Geoffrey and Joshua paid no income tax between 2009 and 2015 and Andrew paid just £15,930.

Joshua could easily lose millions in a single session at a Las Vegas gambling table and had numerous photos of him posing in private jets, casinos and with bundles of cash in briefcases.

Joshua’s £4million home was referred to as an ‘Aladdin’s cave’ of luxury material goods including Bentleys worth £300,000 and Rolex and Audemars Piguet watches worth £50,000.

He was in the process of buying a £4.25 million property in Barnet north London and among the nine cars registered to him were a Ferrari F12 Berlinetta, a Lamborghini Aventador, a Bentley Continental, Rolls Royce Wraith and Rolls Royce Ghost.

On his mobile phone, detectives found a photo of a notepad showing calculations of how the VAT fraud was worked out and then split between him and his father and uncle.

The original notebook was later found at his desk at QPS.

Dad Geoffrey Copp, who owned four mansions in the UK and one in Malaga, bought valuable race horses and paid more than £120,000 for training and stabling.

He is also said to have spent nearly £300,000 on private flights to Malaga and elsewhere between July 2014 and January 2015.

When police raided his home in Stanmore, north London they found £55,000 cash hidden in various places including inside a Bentley GTC Convertible on the driveway.

He had bought three Bentley Continentals in cash between 2013 and 2015.

His brother Andrew Copp owned eight homes, six mortgage-free including one in Malaga.

In 2015 he paid more than £362,000 for a Range Rover Vogue, Lamborghini Gallardo and Bentley Continental.

Several Rolex watches, works of art, a Lamborghini, Bentley and Range Rover were found at his home in Hemel Hempstead.

James Waddington QC, prosecuting, said: ‘The first three defendants stole through their companies over £40million Value Added Tax which they collected from other companies and failed to pass onto the Exchequer.

‘The fourth defendant facilitated this process in his capacity as the company accountant.

‘Each defendant played an important role, albeit distinct role in that offence which is the main charge in this case.

‘Joshua Copp spent a lot of his money living this high life. He had a free and easy attitude to the spending of this pot of taxpayer’s money. During 2014-2015 £9.2m was transferred to him from the CPS and QPS accounts.

‘He also passed a lot to his uncle and father.’

He added: ‘On May 21 2015 police came to his home, a Range Rover Evoque and Mercedes Brabus were parked outside. A Lamborghini and Ferrari were also registered to him. The cars were seized.

‘The Rolls Royce, purchased for £250,000 was found at the home of a friend. The Ferrari cost £245,000 and he spent another £100,000 converting it. The Lamborghini cost £330,000. The other cars cost a total of £400,000.’

Referring to Joshua’s home he added: ‘It was a bit of an Aladdin’s cave containing as it did gold and bejewelled watches and numerous items of designer clothing.

‘Evidence from Selfridges shows that between January and May 2015 he spent over £130,000 in that shop alone. He also liked Harrods, on one occasion he bought six pairs of sunglasses there for £1,220.’

Joshua Copp spent £30,000 on a gold Rolex Skydweller watch, and £56,000 on a gold Piguet watch.

Meanwhile Geoffrey Copp had a £48,000 diamond ring from Hatton Garden, and Andrew Copp had five Rolex watches, it is claimed.

Even after his arrest in May 2015, Joshua Copp was said to have carried on his ‘extravagant lifestyle’.

This included travelling to Miami, returning in June 2015 with £134,500 worth of watches and £94,000 of jewellery, as well as £7,700 in cash.

The trio claimed they did not know there was a VAT debt and had left the VAT to their accountant.

They were found guilty of with conspiracy to cheat the public revenue and money laundering between 21 February 2012 and 15 December 2015 following a trial at Wood Green Crown Court.

Accountant Simon Hathaway, 51, whose firm netted £400,000 for his work for them over a two year period and allegedly helped in the scam was acquitted of false accounting and conspiracy to cheat the public revenue.

Speaking after their conviction Detective Chief Inspector Josie Hayes, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: ‘Geoffrey, Andrew and Joshua Copp conducted a highly organised payroll fraud on a scale never before seen in the UK.

‘They shamelessly took money destined for the public purse to fill their own wallets and brazenly fund extravagant lifestyles, which were beyond the means of many, including the workers whose wages they managed.

‘This was unknown to the many hard-working temp staff whose wages they managed and the recruitment agencies who entrusted the Copps to manage payrolls and paid fees for those services.’

‘Today’s convictions represent many months of detailed investigation and I’d like to thank the witnesses who provided evidence, and staff at HMRC’s Criminal Taxes Unit, with whom we have worked with closely.’

The trio will be sentenced at a later date.


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