Press Release  •  Jul 31, 2014 11:12 BST

Two pharmacists, who lied about exporting life-saving cancer and HIV medicines to Nigeria, have
been jailed for a total of six and a half years for fraudulently claiming £300,000 in VAT repayments.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigators found that pharmacists Benedict Babundo and Louis Ovonlen, of Addison Healthcare (UK) Ltd, who ran a Harlow pharmacy, had a contract with the NHS to operate a prescription service to the public. But they created false invoices for the drugs they claimed to export, to support fraudulent VAT repayments.

Paul Barton, Assistant Director, Criminal Investigation, HMRC, said:

“This was a blatant attack on the tax system. Their only aim was to line their pockets at the expense of the taxpayer. They thought they could get away with providing false records to claim VAT refunds, but they are now counting the real cost of their criminality.”

They obtained falsified documents to help make their fake export business look legitimate by appearing to show that the medicines had been exported.

Recorder Ian Glen said on sentencing Babundo:

“You embarked on submitting false claims and only stopped when HMRC reviewed the business in 2011. The fraud was driven by you, without any doubt, you have a long list of company failures. For tactical reasons you kept your distance – employing others to do your work.”

Notes for editors

1. Images of the defendants are available from HMRCs Flickr channel www.flickr.com/hmrcgovuk or on request.

2. Details of the defendants sentenced yesterday (30 July 2014) at Ipswich Crown Court:

  • Benedict Babundo (DOB 08.05.64) of Plumstead Common, London, was found guilty and sentenced to four years in prison and disqualified as a company director for seven years.

Babundo was a locum pharmacist and suspected of being a director of Addison Healthcare (UK) Limited. Evidence showed he made or permitted fraudulent claims for the repayment of VAT to be made on behalf the companyand creating and/or providing false evidence in support of those
fraudulent claims.

  • Louis Ovonlen (DOB 17.12.70) of Purford Green, Harlow, Essex, was found guilty and sentenced to 30 months in prison and disqualified as company director for four years.

Ovonlen was the director and senior pharmacist of Addison Healthcare (UK) Limited. Evidence showed he made or permitted fraudulent claims for the repayment of VAT to be made on behalf of the company and creating and/or providing false evidence in support of those fraudulent claims.

Both were charged with Cheating the Public Revenue contrary to Common Law.

3.  Follow HMRC on Twitter @HMRCgovuk

Issued by HM Revenue & Customs Press Office

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is the UK’s tax authority.

HMRC is responsible for making sure that the money is available to fund the UK’s public services and for helping families and individuals with targeted financial support.