A highly-paid engineering project manager from Kenilworth swindled the Treasury out of £61,000 to help fund a gambling addiction.
But Tony Klinkovics, 49, of Bromley Close, narrowly avoided being jailed when he appeared at Warwick Crown Court after he had pleaded guilty to ten charges of fraudulently evading income tax.
He was instead sentenced to 16 months in prison, suspended for two years.
Judge Andrew Lockhart QC also ordered him to do 250 hours of unpaid work and made him subject to an electronically-monitored curfew from 7pm to 7am for three months.
Klinkovics will also face a confiscation hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act at a later date, once an investigation into his finances has been completed.
Prosecutor Simon Hunka said between 2008 and 2016 Klinkovics submitted a number of self-assessment tax returns and claims for refunds on tax paid to HM Revenue and Customs.
Between 2008 and 2013 he worked for the Lear Corporation in Coventry where, as a senior programme manager, he was on a salary of £55,783 before he left.
While he was at Lear, his tax was deducted under the PAYE system – but he regularly claimed rebates based on false claims for mileage in his own car while on company business.
Klinkovics then became self-employed and set up his own engineering-related company Utdc Ltd, earning £15,000 between March and July 2013 which he failed to declare.
He then began working for automotive parts supplier Yazaki Europe Ltd as a project manager at the company’s Coventry premises, and from then until September last year he made a number of further false returns.
Mr Hunka said that while at Lear, Klinkovics has made nine false tax returns resulting in him receiving repayments totalling £22,673.
And at Yazaki he made claims for £31,992 worth of repayments – but only received £27,938 of that because HMRC had begun to suspect something was amiss and payments were blocked.
The tax he evaded while he was self-employed took the total loss to the Revenue to a figure of £61,733.
Tom Walkling, defending, said Klinkovics was still in work and ‘will do his best’ to repay HMRC.
But Mr Walkling argued: “His job is far from secure if he were sent to prison, and he would have difficulty, with this conviction, finding other work on his release.”
Sentencing Klinkovics, Judge Lockhart told him: “You have, up until this matter, been a man of good character. But it seems to me that for a period of nearly eight years you filled in fraudulent tax returns.
“These are serious matters. Tax returns are important because it is vital that people such as you in well-paid jobs pay their correct taxes.
“The loss to the Treasury is £61,000. This was a sophisticated fraud, and it went on for a long period of time.
“But when you were interviewed you made a full and frank confession, saying you had been in the grip of a gambling addiction.
“You have shown remorse, and you have been attending Gambling Care since the offences came to light.”