A SYDENHAM pensioner who made false VAT repayment claims of more than £500,000 was found hiding from officers in wardrobe.

Company director Michael Kelly, 73, amde the false claims over a six-year period, claiming that his company exported white goods and motor vehicles to Africa.

Genuine transactions would have resulted in a VAT refund, but investigations revealed that his company, International Trade Centre, made only six small-scale exports in four years.

Assistant director of HM Revenue and Customs David Margree said: "Michael Kelly was brazen in his attempts to obtain huge sums of money by fraud. He was less forthcoming, however, when our officers arrived to search his home. He was found hiding in a wardrobe in a vain attempt to avoid detection.

"Our enquiries revealed that Kelly had persistently submitted utterly fraudulent VAT repayment claims. We will continue to investigate fully and take the strongest possible action against those who defraud HMRC and law abiding individuals."

Kelly, of Kangley Bridge Road, was jailed for four and a half years today (January 17) at the Old Bailey and banned from running a company for six years. He had previously been found guilty of cheating the public revenue.