Former Leyton FC chairman Costas Sophocleous jailed for VAT scam

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Costas Sophocleous Costas Sophocleous

The former chairman of Leyton Football Club has been jailed for more than eight years over a £16 million VAT scam involving ‘phantom’ houses.

Former chairman and manager Costas Sophocleous, 52, of Nursery Road in Loughton, and two others, fraudulently claimed VAT for ten years through a fake building company specialising in new housing developments.

The three claimed millions in VAT rebates for the cost of homes that were never built.

Following an investigation by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), Sophocleous was sentenced for eight years and six months at Isleworth Crown Court yesterday after admitting fraud at an earlier hearing.

His accomplice, Philip Foster of Grosvenor Gardens, in Woodford Green, who also pleaded guilty, was sentenced to five years and three months.

Their accountant Stewart Collins, 52, of Fairlorn Close in Hornchurch, Essex, denied his involvement, but a jury found him guilty on November 18 last year and he was sentenced to six years yesterday.

They were each sentenced for four counts of Cheating the Public Revenue contrary to Common Law.

The HMRC discovered that the millions claimed fraudulently were spent on expensive houses, and some of the proceeds were used to build the E10 bar and cabaret club.

Clive Cottrell, Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation for HMRC said: “VAT fraud is not a victimless crime and we take a serious view of people robbing the public purse.

"Our investigators work tirelessly to pursue those who commit such fraud and these sentences will serve as a deterrent to anyone considering committing tax fraud.”

Leyton FC board member Barry Abbott confirmed that the chairman has stood down and has been replaced by former vice-chairman Tony Hardy.

He said: “We are moving forward as ever and on Monday completed putting in 500 seats in the Wembley stand, so there are no problems with the club. We have moved on from what has happened.”

Mark Sophocleous and Alison Sophocleous, son and wife of Costas Sophocleous, were found not guilty of associated money laundering offences during the five week trial at Isleworth Crown Court.

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Comments (5)

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5:56pm Fri 29 Jan 10

newyear says...

I wonder if he laundered the money through a bank in Chingford?
I wonder if he laundered the money through a bank in Chingford? newyear
  • Score: 0

8:24am Sun 31 Jan 10

simonwesker says...

eight and a half years because it is VAT fraud. people commit murder and get far less than this. The justice system has it's priorities upside down, there are multiple ways to prosecute people who are no threat to the public, fines, restriction on trading, even take away his passport. The dangerous people are out on the streets and the prisons are filled with people arrested for insider trading, VAT fraud and non payment of tax.
eight and a half years because it is VAT fraud. people commit murder and get far less than this. The justice system has it's priorities upside down, there are multiple ways to prosecute people who are no threat to the public, fines, restriction on trading, even take away his passport. The dangerous people are out on the streets and the prisons are filled with people arrested for insider trading, VAT fraud and non payment of tax. simonwesker
  • Score: 0

2:40pm Mon 1 Feb 10

Sugarplum says...

Your article is misleading when it refers to Brisbane Road. That is where Leyton Rient are, this man has no connection with them as far as I am aware. The E10 Club is in Lea Bridge Road
Your article is misleading when it refers to Brisbane Road. That is where Leyton Rient are, this man has no connection with them as far as I am aware. The E10 Club is in Lea Bridge Road Sugarplum
  • Score: 0

5:08pm Tue 2 Feb 10

woggle says...

Sugarplum wrote:
Your article is misleading when it refers to Brisbane Road. That is where Leyton Rient are, this man has no connection with them as far as I am aware. The E10 Club is in Lea Bridge Road
You wally, the report doesnt mention that at all. The sole reference is made by you!!! You're the misleading one!
[quote][p][bold]Sugarplum[/bold] wrote: Your article is misleading when it refers to Brisbane Road. That is where Leyton Rient are, this man has no connection with them as far as I am aware. The E10 Club is in Lea Bridge Road[/p][/quote]You wally, the report doesnt mention that at all. The sole reference is made by you!!! You're the misleading one! woggle
  • Score: 0

5:53pm Thu 4 Feb 10

luvaduck says...

NOT SO BIG NOW ARE YOU COSTAS. COULDNT OF HAPPENED TO A NICER BLOKE. HOPE THEY THROW AWAY THE KEY.
NOT SO BIG NOW ARE YOU COSTAS. COULDNT OF HAPPENED TO A NICER BLOKE. HOPE THEY THROW AWAY THE KEY. luvaduck
  • Score: 0

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