Former Clayton Euro Risk and Edeus chief executive Michael Bolton has been jailed for two years for VAT evasion of £130,000.
Bolton did not appear for sentencing or his earlier trial, and the court heard he may have fled the country.
Bolton was found guilty of one count of fraudulent evasion of VAT and was sentenced in his absence. Passing sentence at Exeter Crown Court today, Judge Graham Cottle said Bolton charged firms for £900,000 of banking and management strategy services between 1 May 2009 and 30 November 2013.
Cottle said the VAT payable on the figure was £130,000.
Cottle said: “You did not account for that VAT at all to the HMRC. You used, in connection with your billing, VAT numbers belonging to two organisations, both of whom you were linked to. You were not, during the period of the offending, registered for VAT in your own name.”
Cottle said Bolton only registered for VAT when he knew he was being investigated by HMRC.
He said: “You used bogus VAT numbers as if they were your own. The documents you used were therefore forged documents.
“The explanation you provided was that you had accounted for all the VAT you were owed in cash to a man called Paulo who lived in Switzerland. That was a completely bogus explanation, I find.”
The judge said Paulo had never existed.
He said: “You are effectively on the run. Your exact whereabouts is not known, though it is believed you may be in Spain.
“You are quite clearly a fraudster, who over a sustained period of time, with an element of sophistication, has defrauded the Revenue out of approximately £130,000.”
Bolton’s court cases began on 2 November last year with plea and case management hearings at Bristol Crown Court.
There was a second plea and case management hearing on 30 November, and Bolton’s trial began at Bristol Crown Court on the morning of 1 February. The trial was adjourned until 11.30am, and Bristol Crown Court issued a bench warrant for Bolton’s arrest on 1 February 1 at 11.53am. A jury unanimously found Bolton guilty on the afternoon of 2 February.
Bolton is a well-known figure in the mortgage world, having spent five years as HBOS head of specialist lending before leaving to set up defunct sub-prime lender Edeus in 2006.
He went on to launch equity release support services firm Charterhouse Retirement Solutions in 2009 before becoming sales and marketing director of Clayton in Europe in 2010 and then co-chief executive of the due diligence firm in 2013. He left Clayton in September 2014 and has since been advising lenders looking to come into the UK market.