Wife of guilty charity tax fraudster charged with complicity in his crimes

Elizabeth Lewis, a tax fraud investigator whose husband Mark pleaded guilty to fraud charges, faces trial at Cardiff Crown Court

Cardiff Crown Court
Cardiff Crown Court

A tax fraud investigator whose husband used a charity he set up to cheat the taxman out of nearly £900,000 is facing charges that she was complicit in his crimes.

In June, Mark Lewis pleaded guilty at Cardiff Crown Court to charges of making a false statement concerning relief from customs duty and three counts of acquiring criminal property.

He used a charity called the Welsh Independent School of Climbing and Mountaineering, which he set up to help disadvantaged young people, to defraud the taxman of £885,000.

His wife, Elizabeth Lewis, is on trial this week at the same court on charges of possessing, using or converting criminal property after prosecutors alleged that she must have been complicit in her husband’s fraud.

The charity was set up in Caerphilly in 2006 and changed its name to the MSL Mountaineering Trust in 2010.

A spokeswoman for the Charity Commission confirmed that the regulator began investigating the charity in 2010 but said she was unable to comment further until after the trial had concluded.

The charity was removed from the register of charities in July 2010 because it had ceased to exist, according to the Charity Commission’s website.

Prosecutors said the charity did not raise much money but that Mark Lewis, 40, falsely claimed it had received £3m and made fraudulent applications for Gift Aid on that amount.

Mark Lewis set up an elaborate web of 27 different companies, some of which were dormant, and prosecutors said he used these to launder the money he defrauded.

Records at Companies House show he resigned from or dissolved at least 22 companies under the name Mark Lewis.

Prosecutors for HM Revenue & Customs allege that Elizabeth Lewis, 38, who denies the charges, must have known that her husband was cheating the taxman because the proceeds of the fraud went into their joint accounts and were used to buy properties she now rents out.

Mark Lewis, who is from Rhondda in Wales, is expected to be sentenced next month.

The case continues.

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