A Leicestershire businessman who fraudulently claimed to be supplying women’s clothes to Parisian shops so that he could reclaim £670,000 in VAT has been jailed for two years after an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Bulbinder Singh Sandhu, 51, said he had sold women’s clothes worth £4 million to a dozen small shops in Paris through his business Isher Fashions, but the investigation found no sales had ever taken place.

Stuart Taylor, Assistant Director, Criminal Investigation, HMRC, said:

“It is clear Sandhu’s only intention was to defraud the VAT system to line his own pockets with money that should have funded public services.

“HMRC will pursue every avenue to ensure that the UK VAT system is not abused in this way. Anyone with information about people who may be involved in tax fraud can contact the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000.”

During the investigation Sandhu produced a fake cash book to show the sales were paid in cash, but when HMRC officers travelled to France they found that none of businesses he claimed were his clients had ever heard of him or his business.

Sandhu, of Rothley, pleaded guilty to VAT fraud and money laundering at the start of his trial in January. As part of the proceedings, he was ordered to repay £500,000 to HMRC before his sentencing took place.

The court heard he had paid the money back to HMRC which was taken into account by the Judge, before he handed Sandhu a 24 month-prison sentence.