A TOBAGO businessman has been ordered to repay close to $.2 million he illegally recovered in Value Added Tax (VAT) on supplies to the Tobago House of Assembly (THA).
Raymond Francis, who runs Trinbago General Supplies and Services at 126 Milford Road, Lower Scarborough, pleaded guilty to 89 charges of VAT fraud in the Tobago Magistrates’ Court. On Monday, he was fined $1,000 on each charge by magistrate Brian Dabideen and ordered to repay the Board of Inland Revenue (BIR).
In 2014, Francis was extradited from Canada by the Fraud Squad to face the tax offences and unrelated fraud charges. Special prosecutor Evans Welch represented the BIR while Francis was represented by Ravi Rajcoomar.
According to the summary of facts presented to the court, the THA, through its Division of Infrastructure and Public Utilities, was a regular customer of Francis’s business and frequently ordered materials and supplies from him.
Francis had submitted for payment 89 invoices which included the 15 per cent VAT mark-up. The division would have paid the total amount of each invoice which including the VAT. But after an investigation, it was realised that Francis’ business was not registered for VAT and had never applied to become registered.
After presenting the facts, Welch said the sentence should reflect the seriousness of the offences. He said the aggravating factors in the case was that Francis was unlawfully and fraudulently using someone else’s VAT registration number and charging the THA, while pocketing the funds.
In imposing the fine, Dabideen ordered a default of two months’ imprisonment if Francis did not pay the fine and an additional two months if he fails to repay the BIR. He was given six months to repay the fines and the BIR. Criminal Tax Investigator II of the BIR Mansie Williams laid the charge against Francis.