Tax-dodging Golders Green pastor avoids jail
- Credit: Archant
A pastor at a Golders Green church has avoided jail after admitting cheating the taxman out of £72,000.
Jerome Uba Anekwe, 42, preached at the El-Shaddai Christian Centre, based in The Hippodrome, in North End Road, from 2004 to 2009 but never declared any of his £238,000 earnings.
Anekwe, of Five Acres, Kings Langley, Hertfordshire, was today handed a two-year jail term suspended for two years at the Old Bailey.
He was also ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work and pay costs of £2,500.
The self-employed pastor had pleaded guilty to cheating the public revenue on February 19.
He was given the chance to come clean about his tax affairs after HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) contacted him in relation to his work as a pastor but he failed to do so.
Chris Gill, HMRC’s assistant director of criminal investigation, said: “Anekwe worked as a self-employed pastor and knew full well he should have paid the tax due but failed to do so.
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“He was offered the chance to put his financial affairs in order, and he could have avoided a criminal record and serious damage to his reputation but, even at that stage, he continued to lie. Now he is paying the price for his dishonesty.
“HMRC takes tax fraud extremely seriously and anyone deliberately choosing to evade their taxes will be prosecuted.
“This sends a clear message that we will try and give people a chance to put their affairs in order, but if they refuse to we will take firm action.”