A wholesale potato merchant from Perthshire has been jailed for two-and-a-half years for VAT fraud.
Scott Coupland, 48, from Leadenflower Road, Crieff, was convicted at Perth Sherriff Court last month and sentenced earlier this week.
A director of W. D. R. Coupland (Produce) Limited, Mr Coupland submitted a string of false VAT returns to HMRC between March 2011 and November 2012.
When caught, the tattie merchant said that his actions were driven by a downturn in business, and that he was trying to broker a business deal in Nigeria.
HMRC said he was found guilty of falsely inflating his business expenses by 2,000% to claim £160,000 he was not entitled to.
The tax agency said investigators found Mr Coupland was using the VAT repayments to keep his ailing business afloat and also cover the costs of private school fees and his mortgage.
Assistant director of HMRC’s fraud investigation service, Cheryl Burr, said: “The VAT repayment system exists to support legitimate businesses, not as a bank to allow criminals access to ready cash. Coupland showed little regard to the honest taxpayers he was stealing from to fund his lifestyle and failing business.
“Our efforts are helping to create a level playing field for honest businesses to operate fairly. We have put a stop to this tax fraud, but the public’s help in fighting tax evasion is vital, and suspicious behaviour can be reported at gov.uk or by calling 0800 59 5000.”