Builder convicted of €680,000 VAT fraud

 

A 34-YEAR-OLD man was yesterday convicted of a €680,000 VAT fraud after a 10-day trial that heard he produced 141 bogus invoices on non-existent transactions with imaginary sub-contractors.

At Ennis Circuit Court, a jury took almost 2½ hours to deliver a majority guilty verdict against Derek Floyd, who had denied fraudulently claiming €683,138 in VAT refunds from the Revenue for certain VAT periods from January 2001 to October 2003.

The 10-day trial heard that Floyd, Lower Main Street, Tulla, Co Clare, generated invoices to imaginary sub-contractors totalling €10.1 million, which allowed him to receive fraudulent VAT repayments of more than €680,000 from the Revenue.

State counsel Alex Owens told the jury that Floyd produced 141 bogus invoices on non-existent transactions with imaginary sub-contractors.

He told the jury: “There were other people who may have masterminded or co-ordinated this but they are not on trial here. You are asked to look at Floyd’s actions and ask what he did.”

Mr Owens said it had been suggested that Floyd was an innocent abroad, “but from beginning to end he is a person who was acting with full knowledge”.

He added: “He was not some Forrest Gump of the building contracting trade. He was a full participant knowing full well what he was at in relation to each of these things.”

However, in his closing speech, defence counsel Anthony Sammon said his client was in court “as a sacrificial lamb to show that the Revenue is doing its job”.

Mr Sammon said Floyd was 22 at the time of the alleged offences, when he was “targeted by cunning and manipulative elements and used and abused”.

He said the court had heard that other builders involved had left the country and he asked: “Who is here with all of the mess in his life but the unfortunate Derek Floyd?”

He added: “When a person ends up as the only person who has been brought to book and when you know there are a lot of other persons involved and they have not been brought to book, it does lead to this: doesn’t the very fact that he is so evidentially exposed in terms of the paper trails – doesn’t that speak volumes in terms of the man’s naivety, gullibility and vulnerability to being exploited in this way?”

Mr Sammon continued: “Has the prosecution shown that Derek Floyd had a criminal state of mind? I am saying to you that that hasn’t been proven.”

He said there was no direct evidence in the case where Derek Floyd made a submission saying “I knew what I was doing was wrong”.

“That isn’t there.”

He added: “This young man was clearly targeted and abused by cunning elements who are not available and the impression is there that no one really cares in official Ireland about that.”

Following an application by Mr Sammon yesterday, Judge Raymond Fullam remanded Floyd on continuing bail for sentence to Ennis Circuit Court on May 21st next.