AN accountant’s career is in tatters after he was convicted of faking VAT returns for five years to avoid paying almost £100,000 in tax.

Tax investigators claimed Martin Kennedy, 54, thought he was “untouchable” and lived a lifestyle “beyond his means” using the proceeds of the fraud.

He admitted failing to declare £93,799 of client business transactions between December 2007 and June 2012 after a probe by the taxman.

His actions resulted in the non-payment of £99,651 in VAT.

Mr Kennedy, of High Street, Walton, was given a tenmonth prison sentence, suspended for two years, after admitting VAT and Fraud Act charges at Ipswich Crown Court. He was also given a sixmonth curfew restricting his movements between 6pm and 6am.

During the investigation, Mr Kennedy claimed he would have been left with no money in the bank and unable to pay his staff if he had declared the right amount of VAT.

HM Revenue and Customs said he bought his marital home for £280,000 while committing the fraud and acquired a large number of shares while continuing to submit false VAT returns.

Paul Barton, assistant director of criminal investigation for HMRC, said: “Kennedy made deliberate and sustained attempts to fake his VAT returns, to fund a lifestyle well beyond his means.

“He seemed to believe he was untouchable, but instead has learnt the hard way that crime does not pay.

“As well as a criminal record, his reputation and career are in tatters.”

Mr Kennedy told the Gazette he had lost everything and said the case should never have gone to court.

He said: “I did suppress my VAT over a number of years.

“It started because, like a lot of small businesses, I was having problems paying my staff.

“It was either pay them or the VAT.”

Mr Kennedy said he intended to put everything right and approached HMRC when he sold his Walton accounting business in November 2012.

He said: “I went to them and confessed absolutely everything.

I co-operated entirely and handed over all my paperwork.”

He claimed he could have repaid the money and a fine of about £20,000 from the sale of property, but his assets were frozen while the investigation went ahead.

He said: “I was trying to do the right thing.

“Now I’ve lost everything. I don’t have a house or a business and I will almost certainly go bankrupt.”