Payback time for fraud couple

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A former company director and his ex-wife, jailed in March for tax fraud, have been ordered to pay back £154,900.

Donna Howard stole £283,713 of Income Tax and National Insurance contributions from the unsuspecting employees of her ex-husband, Michael Howard, the director of Motherwell-based MDH Fire and Security Services Limited.

HMRC investigators discovered PAYE deductions for 29 employees had not been paid and that Donna Howard gave the fraud a veneer of legitimacy by creating false paperwork.

The investigation also revealed the Howards had charged customers more than £530,000 in VAT using fictitious and de-registered VAT numbers, but kept the money.

The fraud was used to fund their lifestyle and before they were caught, the couple shared a £400,000 house in Motherwell and enjoyed luxurious trips abroad.

The Howards have now been ordered to pay two confiscation orders worth a total of £154,900 at Hamilton Sheriff Court.

At a hearing yesterday (Thursday) Donna Howard (44), from Sutherland, who was given 12 months in prison, was ordered to pay £127,000 within six months.

Michael Howard (45), from Motherwell, currently serving a three-year jail term was previously ordered to pay back £27,900 within six months at a hearing last month.

HMRC can apply for further confiscation and pursue the outstanding benefit of the fraud in the future.

HMRC’s Cheryl Burr said: “Even following a conviction our work doesn’t stop. We will always seek to recover the profits criminals made from their crimes, securing these funds for the public purse.”