Archive for the ‘fraud’ Category

Cameron wants MPs who broke law to be prosecuted

30 May 2009

Morley faced the wrath of his constituents and looked beaten. He’ll still be collecting his pay and perks until the general election, at which time he will received another dollop of taxpayer cash – a golden parachute. And then there’s his pension.

Cameron wants MPs like Morley to be prosecuted. Should that happen, Morley would lose his seat and would cease to be funded by the taxpayer.

Bring it on.

Advertisements

Cons majority 168; Labour wipeout

29 May 2009

ConservativeHome reports a massive Conservative majority in the general election, according to Populus. In the Euro elections, Labour is in 3rd place at 16% while UKIP is in 2nd place at 19%.

I suspect that both Labour and the LibDems will suffer greater losses in the EU elections than indicated by these polls – unless the postal votes are stored in cardboard ballot boxes, open to vote fraud. Nothing would surprise me; Labour has previous on voting fraud.

Populus EuroPopulus

MPs escape taxation on expenses: benefits in kind

29 May 2009

Brian Friedman, a retired senior Ernst & Young tax partner, explains why MPs should pay tax on their expenses, fines for false or incomplete tax returns and shot be fired.

Here’s something to send shivers down the spines of a few MPs. Under normal expenses rules, if a company pays for a capital asset, then it remains the property of the employer. Put simply, all those plasma TVs and duck houses and elephant lamps ought to belong to us, not to our MPs: when they get kicked out, deselected or retire, they should hand them back to the new intake.

As a senior partner, recently retired, at one of the Big Four accountancy firms, I like to think I know a thing or two about expenses and tax. But clearly, I don’t know as much as I thought. In the case of Hazel Blears, I believed that, despite her kind offer to pay capital gains tax on the sale of her second home, the tax system didn’t work like that. The taxman doesn’t accept voluntary donations: if you try to pay tax where none is due, he will simply return your cheque. Either the minister submitted an incorrect tax return, in which case she should be liable for interest, and probably penalties, or the whole thing is a charade.

Then there are the other MPs who have offered to pay money back. If I robbed a bank, but handed over the loot when the police came knocking, they wouldn’t just say thank you and walk away. If an employee fiddles his expenses, he will be dismissed, and quite likely prosecuted.

Why do our MPs think repaying the money is sufficient compensation? And why do they then think they can hang on until the next election and claim their generous resettlement allowance?

From a tax perspective, any expenses incorrectly claimed and subsequently repaid represent a beneficial loan. If the total is over £5,000, the MPs should be subject to tax on the notional interest arising – so the taxman should be charging interest and penalties on all those incorrect tax returns.

When you or I send in our returns, we make a declaration that our return is “correct and complete”. We are warned that if we give false information, or conceal any part of our income or chargeable gains, we may be liable to penalties or prosecution.

In practice, what often happens when the taxman realises we have submitted an incorrect return is that HM Revenue & Customs gives us one last chance to come clean: our accountant must write a full report of anything else we would now like to declare, and we must sign a “Certificate of Full Disclosure”. If HMRC then finds anything else untoward it gets angry – so angry that it will usually prosecute. If MPs had to review their returns and sign such a certificate, it would certainly focus their minds. If they could not or would not sign, why should we trust them with our votes?

Then there is something else that has had tax professionals spluttering over their morning coffee – the fact that Alistair Darling, and many of his ministerial colleagues, used their office allowances to pay for preparing their tax returns.

The idea that tax doesn’t have to be taxing as long as you’re an MP is galling on so many levels. First, it is an inappropriate use of their office allowance. Second, there are no grounds in tax legislation for these sums to be treated as tax-free. If there are any MPs who have been reimbursed for the cost of employing accountants through their allowances, and have not declared the amount they received as a benefit in kind – as Darling and others say they have – they will have submitted an incorrect tax return, and should be investigated by the Revenue.

Finally, the only reason that tax is this complex is because successive Chancellors have made it so: if even Mr Darling can’t submit a tax return without specialist help, then perhaps now is the time for a radical simplification of our incoherent and archaic system.

You may be getting the sense by now that there is one law for them, and another for us. In fact, that’s truer than you realise. Members of Parliament have created a special section of the tax code – Section 292 – which effectively ensures they receive less scrutiny than the rest of us, by exempting their overnight expenses from consideration.

We are still just scratching the surface of the way MPs have abused their allowances – any expenses investigator knows that mileage allowances tend to involve some pretty murky goings-on, and resettlement allowances, winding-down allowances and, above all, MPs’ pensions seem to have been equally generous.

But while there are a host of ways to improve things in the medium term – the abolition of Section 292; receipts for all expenses; the establishment of serviced apartments for MPs near Westminster; the abolition of a second-home allowance; and no recruitment of relatives – the most important thing is to stop the rot.

First, MPs who fiddle their expenses should be fired, just as they would be if they worked for corporations. Second, all MPs should submit their tax returns to the fees office for scrutiny prior to submission, and should sign an annual declaration that their tax affairs are in order. Finally, all expenses claims should be suspended with immediate effect until a Certificate of Full Disclosure is submitted to the fees office. That is the simplest way of getting immediate results, and separating the rotten eggs from the rest.

This article appeared in the Telegraph.

Venomous Balls – expenses fiddle

15 May 2009

After being rumbled by the Telegraph for an expenses fiddle by Balls and Cooper, Balls exudes venom. I wonder if it was aimed at a particular journalist, or all of them in general.

The Telegraph reports:

At one point, Miss Cooper and Mr Balls, the Children’s Secretary and a close ally of Gordon Brown, had their expenses docked, after each submitted two monthly claims for mortgage interest of nearly £1,300.

At the time, their mortgage statements showed the interest-only element of their mortgage stood at £733.

Officials also warned them that they had submitted the same claim, for the month of July 2006, twice.

Hmmm. That sounds like they tried to get away with double-claiming but were refused by the Fees Office.

The public can prosecute MPs

15 May 2009

I don’t like to post full articles, but the Daily Mail today published information I’ve been searching for all week. That is, the right of ordinary citizens to bring a prosecution, where the police and CPS do not wish to.

Here it is:

Under ancient common law, an individual has a right to bring a criminal to justice in the courts if the state authorities fail to do so.

Private prosecutions are expensive, difficult to organise and involve producing a high level of proof to persuade a court that an accused can be found guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

But, occasionally, in cases of public scandal, they are effective in bringing great wrongdoing to light.

And if a private prosecution acquires momentum, then the Crown Prosecution Service may step in to put the legal action on to an official basis.

A private prosecution is brought when members of the public feel let down by the police or the CPS when apparently criminal behaviour is allowed to pass without investigation.

Scotland Yard is showing no inclination to involve its officers at Westminster in pursuit of what looks to the public like blatant instances of fraud.

Fraud carries a maximum sentence of ten years jail and – or – an unlimited fine.

False accounting carries a maximum sentence of seven years.

A private prosecution begins in a magistrates court. It can be brought by anyone who wants to see an act of injustice righted.

They do not need to be the victim. A magistrate is, at the first stage, asked for a summons against the accused to answer the charge.

The court will ask for evidence of the crime. If the prosecution is to proceed, the case will be sent to a Crown Court for a jury trial.

Several eventualities could prevent that happening in the MPs’ expenses case.

One possibility is that Commons authorities could rule that the matter falls within the bounds of Parliamentary privilege and may not be tried in the courts.

Any such ruling would risk stoking up even greater public anger.

Commons authorities would also be asked to make evidence of expenses claims available.

They have already promised to publish basic information in June.

But they may still try to withold vital information that has so far been regarded as private, in particular vital material about addresses used by MPs.

There might also be a move to ask a High Court judge rather than a magistrate to rule on whether a private prosecution attempt can go to a full trial.

Major private prosecutions in recent times include that by the parents of Stephen Lawrence.

They brought a case against youths they believed responsible for the 1993 murder of their 18-year-old son.

The case collapsed when identification evidence was ruled inadmissable, but the campaign attracted support from the public which grew angry over the failures of the police investigation.

After a coroner ruled in 1997 that Stephen was the victim of an unlawful killing, the Daily Mail named five youths as his murderers.

Taxpayers’ Alliance ask police to investigate Morley

14 May 2009

The Taxpayer’s Alliance writes:

Why we have called the police in to investigate MPs’ expenses

Matthew Elliott Following the latest – and most shocking – revelations in the MPs’ expenses saga, regarding Elliot Morley’s claims for a mortgage that had already been paid off, the TaxPayers’ Alliance have registered a formal complaint with the Metropolitan Police today. We have asked them to investigate whether Mr Morley is in breach of any laws, including the Fraud Act 2006.

After a little bit of confusion on the part of the police, who tried to suggest we should “complain to our MP“, they have registered our call with an Incident Number (CAD2149) and apparently police officers will be meeting with Parliamentary Officials today. We should hear more later this afternoon.

Isn’t it astonishing that the police should recommend that Matthew Elliott should “complain to our MP”?

Matthew Elliott said he would consider bringing a private prosecution against Mr Morley if the police take no action.

If so, let’s back him.

Labour MP Morley: possible fraud

13 May 2009
Time for an election in Scunthorpe?

Elliot Morley: MPs' expenses

The Telegraph reports that Labour MP Elliot Morley claimed expenses for over £16,000 for a mortgage which had already been paid off:

Elliot Morley, the former agriculture minister, continued claiming for the mortgage interest on his constituency home for more than 18 months after the loan had been repaid.

Lawyers last night said that the claims could constitute a criminal offence under the 2006 Fraud Act and the 1968 Theft Act.

The disclosure is the most serious to be uncovered so far by The Daily Telegraph during the week-long investigation into MPs’ expenses.

It can also be disclosed that, in November 2007, Mr Morley “flipped” his designated second home from the Scunthorpe house to his London property – and the dubious mortgage claims were never uncovered.

Mr Morley, a former government whip and privy councillor, was renting out the London property, which was designated as his “main residence”, to another Labour MP.

For four months after Mr Morley “flipped” his homes, the former minister claimed full mortgage interest on the London house and Mr Cawsey, who had designated the house as his second home, continued to claim £1,000 a month for the same property in rent. The rent money was paid to Mr Morley.

Mr Morley was a minister under Tony Blair and was made a privy councillor in December 2006. Since January, he has been the chairman of the House of Commons energy and climate change select committee. He has claimed close to the maximum amount allowable in expenses over the past four years.

Steven Barker, a lawyer who specialises in fraud cases, said: “The Fraud Act was designed to deal with these types of offences. There is also a possibility of an offence of false accounting under the Theft Act.”

Read the full article.

Will he be charged with fraud? Somehow, I doubt it – not while McMental is at the helm.

Morley’s voting record makes him enemy number one in my book; a plaything of the whips, a man lacking integrity.

He might find life in Scunthorpe a little uncomfortable on the weekend. I hope so.

Avoid prosecution – pay your capital gains tax now

13 May 2009

If only.

I would like to quest anyone with a deep pocket to challenge the government’s decision not to prosecute Hazel Blears by offering to pay back any capital gains tax that you might reasonably owe.

Would the tax man let you off?

Do the country a favour and show up these sheisters by challenging them to offer you the same leniency offered to Hazel Blears.

You couldn’t make a greater donation to society than sticking up for democracy and showing up this government for the charletans that they are.

Conservative MPs pay back expenses claimed

12 May 2009

Conservative MPs Arbuthnot and Ancram said they would pay back expenses claimed from the Commons Fees Office. Arbutnot described his claim as an error of judgement. Quite so.

The Telegraph writes that Ancram claimed £98.58 for repairs to his swimming pool boiler, but insisted that all his other claims were necessary for maintaining his property, saying: “None of the other items were extravagant or luxurious.”

Ancram also requested reimbursement of £1,117.43 for a gardening bill which included “cleaning up moss etc” on the house in the Vale of Pewsey, Wiltshire.

He said yesterday: “I have always made sure that I did not claim for anything which enhanced the property.

“I should point out that I have not taken my pay increase this year because I felt in the economic circumstances it was wrong. I do take a very strong exception to any suggestion that this was enhancing my property or that my claims were financially beneficial.”

This case is galling, because Ancram is clearly a man of means and shouldn’t be sucking at the taxpayer’s teat. He has saved some face by assuriing us that he will pay it back.

On the face of it, Ancram’s claims are chicken-feed compared to claims from McNulty, Jackboot Smith, Alistair Darling and a host of others – which I would describe as fraud. Certainly, if you or I were to try to get away with the same thing, we’d be fired, done for fraud and would have he Inland Revenue feeling our collars. This immoral, dishonest bunch haven’t even received a public rap on the knuckles.

That disgusts people.

FRAUD! Jackboot’s main residence is Redditch

7 May 2009

The Mail revealed that Jackboot pays council tax on her main residence – her family home in Redditch and yet claims that her sister’s spare residence is her main residence. You can’t have it both ways, Jackboot.

The Mail reports:

“The property on which she has claimed thousands of pounds in second homes allowance is actually her primary residence for tax purposes, it was revealed.

The Home Secretary has pocketed £84,000 of taxpayers’ money on the home she shares with her husband, Richard Timney, and their two children in Redditch, her West Midlands constituency.

That was only possible because she persuaded the House of Commons authorities that her main home is actually her sister’s spare bedroom in London, where she lodges during the week.

But after a freedom of information request, Redditch council has confirmed that Miss Smith pays council
tax as if the £300,000 constituency house was her main home.

Last night, Tory MP Ben Wallace said the revelations suggest the Home Secretary is guilty of ‘an abuse of the system’.

He has passed the details of Miss Smith’s tax status to the parliamentary sleaze watchdog, who has launched an inquiry into the affair.”

This is not just an abuse of the system – it is fraud. Jackboot’s expense claims should be subject to an immediate investigation and she should be suspended while this is in progress. That such a person is in charge of the Home Office is outrageous.

Old Holborn is reporting her to the Police. Good on him!