Police have arrested 12 people in dawn raids across the UK on suspicion of VAT repayment fraud. They're believed to be part of an organised crime organisation that purports to trade in the construction industry.
Collectively, they're suspected of trying to hoodwink the Revenue out of over £2 million. It's alleged they created a contrived chain of companies that tried to reclaim VAT they never actually paid on the sale of non-existent equipment and concrete crushing machines.
The operation, carried out by criminal investigators from HM Revenue & Customs with support from local police, targeted individuals and addresses in Staffordshire, Cheshire, Manchester and Suffolk. Paperwork including bank account statements and computer printouts were seized along with live ammunition, CS spray and an imitation firearm.
All defendants have been arrested on suspicion of Conspiracy to Cheat the Revenue and Money Laundering offences under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and are currently being questioned by HM Revenue & Customs criminal investigators at police stations across the UK.
HM Revenue & Customs Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation Adrian Farley said:
"Today's arrests are a result of many months of investigation across the UK to unravel what is believed to be a major fraud.
"One of our key priorities is to identify the abuse of our tax systems by organised crime gangs stealing vast amounts of public money for their own gain. Working closely with other law enforcement agencies we will unravel cases of complex fraud and bring those responsible before the courts."