A tax adviser from Ramsgate has been jailed for two years and seven months after defrauding a client out of more than £45,000.
In May 2017, Lana Laws – previously known as Ben but now identifying as a woman – asked one of their clients to pay a large sum of money to their firm to cover the cost of the client’s capital gains tax that was due.
The client transferred £45,516 in good faith to his accountant to be sent on to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
Instead of settling the customer’s tax bill, Laws took the money and it wasn’t until almost two years later that the victim realised what had happened.
In February 2019, the victim received a letter from HMRC showing the capital gains tax was still outstanding and, when he queried it, they told him the money had never been received.
Financial enquiries were carried out which confirmed that, within a month of Laws’ firm receiving the money, it had in fact been transferred into other accounts and not sent to HMRC.
The matter was taken to Kent Police and Laws refused to comment when interviewed under caution in September 2019. Laws later pleaded guilty to fraud by abuse of position and was sentenced at Canterbury Crown Court on Friday 18 December.
Investigating officer Detective Constable Jason Lynch said: “To be defrauded by your accountant, someone you trust and pay to take care of your finances, is a significant abuse of trust. The victim in this case employed the services of Laws in good faith and was completely misled.
“Laws not paying the client’s tax bill has had a big impact on the victim, both financially and emotionally. I am glad the court have recognised the seriousness of Laws’ criminality and imposed a custodial sentence.
“We have officers dedicated to tackling offences like these to ensure people like Laws don’t get away with such deception and, on this occasion, the offender has been convicted and sent to prison, where he’ll have time to reflect on his actions.”