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27/10/2021

Council to hold special meeting over alleged £95,000 VAT fraud

A Council statement said a decision had been taken in June to convene a special meeting.

Council to hold special meeting over alleged £95,000 VAT fraud

A local council has said they will hold a special meeting to discuss an investigation into alleged VAT fraud related to two local sports organisations.

The decision comes after an internal audit team said the Council were currently progressing an internal investigation that runs against HMRC recommendations into alleged improprieties surrounding the claiming of VAT.

The item arose during last week's meeting of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council's Audit Committee, when one councillor again accused the council of 'tampering with' minutes.

Cllr Pádraig McShane

Glens councillor Pádraig McShane said internal audit input to a meeting of the Committee on June 9 2020 had been omitted from the minutes, and his own contribution recorded inaccurately.

He told last week's meeting he was now in possession of a recording from the June 9 meeting that contained the input of internal audit.

The Committee was discussing an investigation into an alleged £95,000 VAT fraud relating to two local sports organisations.

Within the recording, an internal audit representative is said to have clarified a directive had been taken that was 'in contravention' of HMRC guidance.

“I am progressing the investigation in line with the directive by the Chief Executive issued on May 26 2021,” they said.

“The directive is in contravention to the outcomes and recommendations made by internal audit, the internal investigation and indeed, HMRC.”

Cllr McShane said he had proposed at the meeting that the David Jackson, CEO of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, had nothing more to do with the investigation into alleged VAT fraud.

“The CEO was the Chief Finance Officer of the organisation and ultimately responsible for the erroneous claims of VAT from HMRC,” he said.

“It is preposterous that the CEO is allowed to influence this investigation.

“The adoption of the minutes by members points again to elected members being complicit in covering up issues of gross misconduct.

“I've said since 2017 that I believe the minutes of this organisation appear to be tampered with for pre-ordained outcomes. The recording of the previous meeting would seem to evidence that.”

HMRC said they could not comment on individual cases, but said going against their guidance could result in punitive measures.

“If a customer has received a letter from HMRC giving guidance that they disagree with, they should discuss that with HMRC directly to ensure that VAT is being accounted for correctly, rather than just going against the guidance given,” said a spokesperson.

“This may have ramifications on penalties charged on top of any undeclared VAT.

Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council said a special meeting would be convened to discuss the VAT situation.

“At the Council meeting on June 29, Council agreed 'that a Special Council meeting be convened following the discussion tonight and at recent Audit Committee to discuss the VAT element, current status of the issues raised, HMRC advice, with the oversight of the Finance Director who may wish to seek outside expertise if he considered it necessary,” said a spokesperson.

“As this is currently a live matter, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

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