A businessman has been jailed after claiming more than £40,000 in VAT returns on a minibus firm which did not exist.
Omar Mayet, 30, registered Batley Cabs National Services with HM Customs and Excise in 2010, saying he was providing passenger services using a 15-seater mini-bus.
But the father-of-two, of Lichfield Road, Dewsbury, had never even owned a taxi licence, let alone a minibus.
Jon Gregg, prosecuting, told Leeds Crown Court the number of seats was significant since it meant he would not be able to charge VAT to passengers but could reclaim it from the excise for running costs.
He then submitted a claim for VAT repayment every quarter until March 2013 when payments were stopped and an investigation began.
He did not cooperate with the investigation and on July 11 this year his house was raided. “There was nothing that would support the running of a taxi business, not so much as an air freshener shaped like a pine tree,” Mr Gregg told the court.
Mayet had attempted to claim more than £45,000 but as a result of the claims being halted he received £35,771 it total.
When he was arrested Mayet confessed it was “a phoney company” and the claim was dishonest from the outset because of financial debts.
“I have done wrong, I have claimed VAT, I’m going to be honest,” he told police. “I should have admitted it straight away.”
Daniel Gaskell, mitigating for Mayet, told the court his client had acted because of financial problems.
“He acted alone, it was a fairly naive act which almost inevitably would have been discovered because he used his own address and name,” he said.
Mr Gaskell said Mayet had borrowed £11,000 from friends and relatives to make an offer to start paying back what he owed and if he lost his liberty a business he ran with a partner would be in jeopardy and it would hit his wife and children.
Jailing him for 18 months in court on Monday, Recorder Sara Dodd told Mayet the offence was over a substantial period and showed a “level of sophistication and research”.
She added: “It was clearly a fraudulent enterprise right from the outset.
“You became embroiled in greed through this fraud.”
Mayet was also ordered to pay a £100 victim surcharge.