An ex-MP has been sentenced to six months in jail for ‘false accounting by putting in fake receipts … of “research and translation” services.’
Sounds too fantastic? Well, it’s true, but it happened in Britain.
BBC reports that “Former MP Denis MacShane has been jailed for six months for expenses fraud after admitting submitting 19 fake receipts amounting to £12,900. He is the fifth MP to get a prison sentence after 2009’s expenses scandal.”
Reuters reports that “MacShane claimed bogus expenses to pay for research and translation work supposedly done by an organisation called the European Policy Institute (EPI), a research body he had set up in 1992. In fact, the EPI had not done any work and the money went straight to MacShane.
However, the court heard that MacShane had paid other third parties to do some work to help in his role as an MP, but that he had not kept the receipts.
Instead, MacShane tried to estimate the cost of the genuine work and then reclaimed the expenses through the EPI.
Prosecutors said they accepted MacShane’s argument that he had submitted false invoices to recoup expenses he genuinely incurred as an MP. They also accepted that he had not intended to profit personally and said his “chaotic” record-keeping had contributed to the confusion. The money was paid back.
The judge said MacShane’s case was different from those of the other four MPs jailed for false expenses claims.”
MacShane did not intend to personally profit from the fraud.
He did not personally profit from the fraud.
He committed the fraud to recover other official expenses that he had incurred, but for which he did not have receipts.
Yet, he was convicted and jailed.
False invoices, inflated invoices, inflated expense statements, ‘voucher payments’, etc. are common in India. One or more of these practices are indulged in commonly by politicians, businessmen, executives, etc. In some cases, these practices are resorted to for personal gain. In other cases, they are done to cover expenses for which receipts are not available.
If all such practices are treated as crimes, how many Indians would be eligible to be treated as criminals?