A Malaysia national who had lived in London has been jailed for 32 months. Chyi Chiann Cheah also known as Susan Chyi was found guilty of VAT fraud following an investigation by HMRC. The woman was involved in the sale of beauty products but used a number of aliases to run cosmetics businesses which were supposedly importing and exporting beauty products to Europe from the Far East via the UK.
The fraud took place over a ten year period and Cheah was found to have submitted false invoices and shipping documents to support her claims for VAT repayments. However, HMRC investigators found the companies were deregistered and Cheah had gone missing. Cheah was ultimately arrested when she returned to the UK from Malaysia in February 2014.
The proceeds of crime had been used by Cheah to fund her lavish lifestyle including a flat overlooking Regents Park, extensive world travel and transferring money to bank accounts in the Far East.
Paul Barton, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC said:
‘Cheah thought she could hide from HMRC and avoid the consequences of her fraud. She was wrong. She cheated the taxpayer out of hundreds of thousands of pounds which should have been spent on essential public services and is now paying the price as she starts her jail term.’
HMRC investigators have had a number of recent successes in identifying fraudulent activity involving VAT claims that have resulted in criminal prosecution. These kinds of criminal investigations should send a strong message to those who act. or consider acting, illegally.