A convicted fraudster jailed following a complex VAT scam which involved him using multiple false identities has been ordered to pay back almost £3.5 million under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

In 2018, John Dalton was sentenced to five years and four months’ imprisonment after he was finally brought to justice having fled the country following a string of offences committed more than a decade before. Dalton was part of a conspiracy, focused around the false claiming of VAT repayments from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.

It involved setting up a number of bogus companies and using forged documents. The majority of the businesses never legitimately traded and offices where they were supposedly based were rarely occupied and changed on a regular basis.

Born as Paul Kemp and formerly from Canterbury, the 56-year-old failed to answer police bail following his initial arrest in 2007 and fled the country. After ten years on the run Dalton was eventually located in Spain, where in 2017 he was detained and extradited back to the UK. He was sentenced in November 2018, after pleading guilty to being concerned in the fraudulent evasion of VAT. Three other members of his criminal enterprise had been jailed in 2010, for a combined total of almost ten years.

Following the sentence, financial investigators from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate carried out an extensive investigation, using powers under the Proceeds of Crime Act, to target any assets and gains derived from his crimes. In May 2021, a hearing lasting six days was held at the Inner London Crown Court. Following this hearing, on 28 June, Judge Silas Reid handed down his written ruling, ordering that Dalton pay a confiscation order of £3,491,433. In relation to the confiscation order amount, HHJ Reid said: ‘On the evidence I have, I am NOT satisfied on the balance of probabilities, that Mr Dalton’s worldwide assets are worth less.’

If he fails to pay the full amount within three months, he faces a further ten-year prison sentence.

Detective Superintendent Patrick Milford, for Major Economic and Cyber Crime, said: ’Dalton is a career criminal who has cheated his way through life in order to make huge sums of money he was not entitled to.

‘Since his prison sentence, our financial investigators have carried out exhaustive enquiries in their determination to seize back any illegal gains Dalton may have obtained. We identified properties within the UK and France and also strongly suspected he had a wealth of hidden worldwide assets, an assumption which has now been supported by the court ruling.

‘The sizeable amount that Dalton has been ordered to repay is testament to an investigation which has left no stone unturned, and indeed this case clearly demonstrates just how important the Proceeds of Crime Act continues to be, in ensuring criminals like Dalton are not able to benefit from their crimes once they have finished their prison sentences. If Dalton fails to pay the confiscation order he is facing another lengthy prison sentence and if he does pay it in full Kent Police will receive a significant amount of the payment through the Home Office Asset Recovery Incentivisation Scheme. This will be money which importantly can be immediately invested back into policing our communities.’

By Ed