Four in court over alleged £5m Gift Aid scam

The group, three of whom are members of the same family, are accused of inventing donors and claiming fraudulent tax repayments

Southwark Crown Court
Southwark Crown Court

Three members of the same family and an accomplice have been accused of stealing £5m in a Gift Aid fraud involving money claimed on donations that did not exist.

John Davies, 58 and of Esher, Surrey, Melody Davies, 27 and of Shrewsbury, Benjamin Davies, 31 and of Manchester, and Olsi Vullnetari, 38 and of Abingdon, Oxfordshire, all appeared at Southwark Crown Court where they denied charges of cheating public revenue and money laundering between June 2005 and January 2014.

They are accused of taking Gift Aid paid by the government to two charities, the Sompan Foundation, which is a poverty charity, and the migrant charity, the Kurbet Foundation. Both charities, which are based in Kingston-upon-Thames, have not filed any accounts since 2012.

The court was told that many of the individuals said to have donated to the charities did not exist and that fraudulent tax repayments worth almost £3.3m were claimed on behalf of the Sompan Foundation and more than £1.7m for The Kurbet Foundation.

Money from the Sompan Foundation was allegedly sent to 15 countries, with nearly half going to Hungary, where the Davies family owned a holiday home, the court heard. 

Vullnetari was a trustee of the Sompan Foundation from 2004 to January 2008, when he was replaced by Benjamin Davies.

According to the Sompan Foundation’s annual accounts for 2011, the most recent available on the Charity Commission website, Benjamin Davies resigned as a trustee in 2011.

The trial, which started last week, is scheduled to last six weeks. 

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