South West Wales

Carmarthen directors' £2.7m tax fraud 'funded dream lives'

Swansea Crown Court

Company directors from Carmarthenshire defrauded the taxman out of £2.7m to fund extravagant lifestyles, a court has heard.

Richard Safadi, 47, of Carmarthen, and Mandy Galinsky, 53, of Ammanford, charged customers more than £1.6m in VAT but only gave £40,000 to HMRC.

The pair, directors of Penybanc Car Sales and Ammanford Metal Recycling, spent the money on holidays and cars.

On Wednesday, they were given suspended sentences at Swansea Crown Court.

A HMRC investigation found Safadi had failed to file a single tax return on his personal income, despite becoming a millionaire.

He stole more than £280,000 in tax that should have been passed on to HMRC.

Galinsky claimed she had not earned a penny since 2009, but investigators found she had earned more than £500,000 and kept the £230,000 she should have paid in tax.

They also pocketed £640,000 in Corporation Tax - in total, stealing £2,786,374.

The court heard they enjoyed "lavish lifestyles" with all their personal expenses, including on holidays, credit card bills and loan agreements for their vehicles - paid out of company expenses.

'Took advantage'

Both had rental properties, holiday homes in Kenya and drove high-end cars including Range Rovers, Bentleys, a BMW and a Rolls Royce.

Colin Spinks, assistant director of HMRC's fraud investigation service, said the pair stole an "extraordinary amount of cash to fund lifestyles most people can only dream of".

He said: "Between them, the pair took advantage of the tax system at every opportunity and stole money from where it was intended - funding vital public services."

The pair pleaded guilty in August 2016 to failing to pay the correct tax for their used car dealership and scrap metal company, or pay the tax due on their personal income.

Safadi, who has paid back nearly £890,000, was sentenced to 24 months in jail, suspended for two years.

Galinsky was sentenced to 10 months in prison, suspended for 18 months.

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