A south Bucks builder who submitted fake VAT returns totalling £254,898 to fund his lifestyle has been given a suspended sentence for tax fraud.

Malcolm MacDougall, 54, of Rogers Lane, Stoke Poges, traded as BM Construction and between February 2012 and October 2015 he submitted fraudulent VAT returns to the HMRC.

Investigations also revealed that he forged invoices worth £27,527.93 to support fraudulent repayment claims.

MacDougall was arrested in May 2016, pleaded guilty to the fraudulent evasion of VAT and to submitting fraudulent invoices at Slough Magistrates Court on July 25 last year, and appeared at Reading Crown Court for sentencing on July 31 this year.

He was sentenced to two years for the VAT Act offences, and one year for the Fraud Act offences, ‎suspended for 18 months.

HMRC is also pushing for financial confiscation to recover proceeds of the crime and MacDougall is believed to have spent the fraudulently-obtained cash on his “general lifestyle”.

Simon Kiefer, assistant director at HMRC’s fraud investigation service, said: “MacDougall showed a blatant disregard for UK tax law by committing VAT fraud. It is simply not acceptable to obtain an illegal advantage over business competitors, or to steal from honest taxpayers.

“HMRC will continue to pursue those criminals who attack the tax system, and we have already started our action to recover the proceeds of MacDougall’s crime.

“We ask anyone with information about suspected VAT fraud to contact our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”