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A Tobago businessman, who admitted to charging the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Value Added Tax (VAT) without being registered with the Board of Inland Revenue (BIR), has been fined $89,000.

Raymond Francis, owner of Trinbago General Supplies and Services, was fined after pleading guilty to 89 VAT fraud charges before Magistrate Brian Debideen at the Scarborough Magistrates’ Court.

Francis was also ordered to repay the $189,000 in VAT, which he charged the THA.. The fine and the repayment are to be made within six months.

In the event that Francis fails to meet the deadlines he will face two months’ in prison for the unpaid fine and two additional months for failing to repay the Board of Inland Revenue.

The charges relate to 89 invoices submitted to the THA for goods supplied to its Division of Infrastructure and Public Utilities over the past two years.

An investigation conducted by BIR’s criminal tax investigation department revealed that Francis’ company was not registered to charge VAT and had never applied for registration.

Further investigations revealed that the VAT registration number used on Francis’ invoices belonged to another company, Signma Service, whose owner Gordon Gonzales, was unaware that it had been fraudulently used.

In asking for a large fine for Francis, BIR’s special prosecutor Evans Welch asked Debideen to consider that he (Francis) had fraudulently used another company’s VAT registration number and that he had used it to obtain over-payments from the Government through his invoices to the THA. Welch also noted that Francis had been extradited from Canada in 2014 to face a series of unrelated fraud charges.

Francis was represented by Ravi Rajcoomar.

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