Scottish golf professional jailed over £154,000 tax fraud

Hammer And Gavel

A Scottish golf professional and golf course proprietor has been sentenced to 15 months in jail after being convicted of tax fraud.

Inverness Sheriff Court heard that Jon Wiggett, 51, pocketed more than £154,000 in VAT in a desperate bid to keep his business afloat.

Wiggett, who had earlier pleaded guilty, operated Brahan Golf Club on land leased from the Brahan Estate just outside Conon Bridge, a small village to the north west of Inverness.

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It was found that he had submitted 13 false VAT repayment claims over a three-year period from November 2013 to January 2017 and that he tried to back up the fraud with "dozens of fake purchase receipts" in the club's name.

An HMRC investigation into Wiggett's activities found that he had attempted to use the falsified invoices as proof of purchase for a lawn and hundreds of bottles of herbicide.

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Representing Wiggett, solicitor advocate Mike Chapman told Sheriff Gordon Fleetwood: "The business was a spectacularly unsuccessful venture and instead of closing
it down he used the VAT money to keep it going.

"He didn't have expensive holidays and there are no assets to speak of. He has been unable to pay off any of the money and is realistic about his prospects today."

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In handing down the 15-month jail term, Sheriff Fleetwood said that he no alternative but to impose a custodial sentence.

He said: “This was all about getting money into your own account when it should have been going into the public purse."

Cheryl Burr, an assistant director at HMRC, added: "Wiggett stole the equivalent of five police constables' salaries in Scotland. This was money that should have been funding vital public services."

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