Former tax inspector and Pompey Supporters' Trust treasurer in 'brazen' £42,000 tax swindle

A FORMER tax inspector has admitted a ‘brazen’ £42,000 income tax fraud carried out while he was negotiating with HMRC for clients suspected of the same crime.

By Ben Fishwick
Saturday, 5th September 2020, 7:00 am
Updated Monday, 7th September 2020, 3:52 pm

Steve Tovey, the ex-treasurer of Pompey Supporters’ Trust, failed to file his own tax returns for six years on £201,000 of earnings while working as a self-employed tax consultant.

Portsmouth Crown Court heard the shamed grandfather ‘specialised’ in helping firms and individuals with so-called code nine cases, where tax fraud is suspected but no criminal prosecution is sought.

But HMRC grew suspicious when Tovey ‘filed returns of information on behalf of a client that the inland revenue weren’t happy with,’ prosecutor Mike Mason said.

Steve Tovey at Fratton Park with Pompey favourite Hermann Hreidarsson in 2013 when the Icelandic player was given an award from the Pompey Supporters' Trust. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (131047-3)

Investigators then turned their attention to Tovey, who had not filed a single return for his own work between 2011 and 2017.

Yesterday, Tovey found himself in the dock in front of a judge, Recorder Charles Langley, who branded his fraud ‘deliberate and brazen’.

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Sentencing, Recorder Charles Langley said: ‘The offence is aggravated by the deliberate and brazen nature of your offending - you used to be a tax inspector.

Steve Tovey at the Pompey Supporters' Trust AGM in 2012. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (123162-5)

‘You knew the system and you abused it. To make matters worse while you were not sending in your tax returns you were speaking to (HMRC) regularly.’

Judge Langley imposed a 16-month sentence suspended for two years with 200 hours’ unpaid work. Tovey used his wife’s savings to pay back £42,991 to HMRC.

He added: ‘You were specialising in code nine cases, where clients seek to avoid criminal charges by co-operating with inland revenue.

‘One cannot overstate the irony of that in light of the fact that you were not making your self-assessment tax returns.’

Steve Tovey at the Pompey Supporters' Trust Board meeting held at Fratton Park in 2014. Picture: Malcolm Wells (14228-8397)

Ashamed of his crimes Tovey, of The Meadows, Fareham, did not tell his family he was being prosecuted and kept it secret until police arrived at his home on a warrant issued after he failed to go to court.

Daniel Reilly, mitigating, said Tovey had suffered with a failed business and had lacked financial stability.

He drove to Bath thinking of suicide before returning home, the court heard.

Mr Reilly said Tovey – who had been held on remand in prison for six weeks until yesterday – had a mini-breakdown, and his mother was unwell.

But the judge said: ‘This man was a tax inspector, this man dealt with these code nine investigations, one thing that cannot be in dispute was that he knew he had to file a self-assessment tax return every year.’

Tovey admitted income tax fraud and failing to turn up at crown court on July 15.

The crime did not relate to the supporters’ trust. Tovey quit as treasurer in April 2015.

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