A Highgate businessman has been jailed for his part in a tax scam.

Quentin Reynolds, 46, of Sheldon Avenue, was sentenced to 54 months in prison for conspiring to steal £250million from the taxpayer in VAT fraud.

He was jailed at Southwark Crown Court last week and disqualified from being a company director for five years.

The court heard how Mr Reynolds used his business, a VAT registered company, to act as a “buffer trader”, buying mobile phones from an importer without paying VAT and selling them on with VAT, keeping the profit rather than giving it to the taxman.

HM Revenue & Customs, HMRC, cracked the conspiracy to steal millions for the public purse in July 2003. A series of businesses were importing and exporting mobile phones and hiding the VAT, in what is known as "missing trader" or "carousel" fraud.

Mr Reynolds was a director of one of the companies involved.

More than 40 suspects were arrested and 100 homes searched to seize computers and documents linking the organisations involved.

Offshore bank accounts revealed the stolen VAT was being transferred from the UK and EU into accounts in Hong Kong, Pakistan and Dubai.

Judge David Higgins said on sentencing: “This was an attack on the very fabric of our society. It is deplorable and deeply antisocial. The public is entitled to be, and are, outraged.”

Mr Reynolds was jailed after a 10-week trial along principle organiser of the fraud, 36-year-old Taher Majid from Cardiff, and Abdul Koser, 42, from Manchester.

Chris Pygall, Deputy Director of criminal investigation for HMRC, said: “VAT fraud is a serious crime which diverts vital income from the UK’s public services into the pockets of career criminals.

“The successful prosecution by the Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office of these criminals should send a clear signal to anyone involved or considering becoming involved in VAT fraud that the crime is serious and so are the penalties.”