A “THOROUGHLY dishonest” accountant who inflated his clients’ expenses and fiddled his own tax returns has been jailed for an £11 million fraud.

Christos Charalambous, 58, of Norfolk Avenue, Palmers Green, is believed to have fraudulently claimed about £10m over a decade through inflating his clients’ expenses and taking a cut of the tax repayments.

As the proprietor of Charltons, which was operated from his home address, he fabricated expenses claims in 6,000 of his clients' tax returns.

In what was a double-edged fraud, he also skipped paying £807,406 on his own tax returns by underestimating the amount of money he was making between 1997 and 2008.

He had also tried to evade paying £180,000 in VAT on his company by failing to register it since 2000.

The court heard how Charalambous would submit tax returns for his clients to the authorities without showing his clients what information he was including.

He would then receive the repayments, deduct a fee of at least 15 per cent, and repay the remainder to his clients, many of whom had moved here from abroad and had little understanding of the tax system.

After a seven week trial, he was found guilty at Blackfriars Crown Court yesterday of six counts of cheating the public purse and jailed for eight years.

Judge Richardson said: "The offences are more serious as you were a chartered accountant. HMRC ought to be able to trust you as should your clients. You exposed them to the dishonesty that you practice. With tax enquiries, you responded with evasion and lies."

Steve Armitt, Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation for HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), said: "Charalambous is a thoroughly dishonest accountant who was motivated by greed. He betrayed the trust of innocent and vulnerable people to feed that greed.

"This deprived the nation's public services of millions of pounds. Our aim is to pursue and prosecute those involved in this type of criminal activity and reclaim the proceeds of their crime.“

Charalambous, who was born in Cyprus and moved to the UK in 1970, was an accountant for over 30 years, becoming chartered from 1979 to 2005.

In November 2005, he was excluded from the Institute of Chartered Accountants for failing to co-operate with the Inland Revenue.