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Four criminal gang members are to join nine others in jail for their participation in a £17m VAT fraud scam…

Four men, part of the ‘missing trader’ scheme have been jailed for their involvement in a VAT Fraud plot to steal £17m of taxpayer’s money.

Among the Four people jailed is Scottish businessman Shabir Anwar Ahmed, who faces four years in prison after being found guilty in Southwark Crown Court for conspiring to steal taxpayer’s money in the ‘missing trader’ VAT fraud scheme.

The criminal gang has already seen nine of its members sent to prison in December 2010 and January 2011, facing a total of 21 years between them.

The VAT fraud gang centred their fraudulent activities on the mobile phone industry.

The criminal gang purchased goods free from value-added-tax (VAT) from countries in the European Union and re-sold them in the UK inclusive of VAT; committing VAT fraud by defaulting on payments to HMRC.

In attempts to hide their VAT fraud activities from the Revenue, money was illegally diverted out of the UK to Belgium, China, Denmark, Germany, Italy, India and Taiwan.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) finally caught the multi-million pound VAT Fraudsters after a five year investigation in the VAT fraud gang’s worldwide activity.

Members of the VAT fraud gang had made VAT claims to steal a further £5m, which have since been stopped from getting paid.

During house raids by HMRC paperwork was recovered that showed the VAT fraud gangs further intentions to steal a £300m of VAT from the public purse.

Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation for HMRC, Gary Lampon, said:

“This was a complex and lengthy investigation, over five years, to unravel this multi million pound fraud by an organised crime gang.

“They used the money to fund extravagant lifestyles at the expense of the British taxpayer.

“Missing trader fraud is not merely a paper fraud, it funds other serious crime and we are determined to pursue and bring to justice the criminals behind this type of fraud.”

High value items purchased by the VAT fraud gang through their proceeds of crime included several properties in the UK and one property in Spain valued at over £1m each, plus many luxury cars including a Ferrari worth £165,000 and a Rolls Royce Phantom for £250,000.

Kevin Kinsella Jnr, of KinsellaTax, said:

“I am interested to see how this VAT fraud case carries out and the amount of VAT that is recovered by HMRC.

“If it has taken the Revenue five years to investigate this international tax fraud case and jail 9 criminal gang members, it may take HMRC another few years to pursue others involved in the tax fraud scam.

“I think the sentences are quite lenient given the sums of money involved.”

HMRC have said that assets of £8m have already been restrained from the VAT fraudsters and that they are heading confiscation proceedings to reclaim proceeds from the £17m Vat fraud scam.

VAT Fraud tax enquiries are serious and anyone undergoing a Value Added Tax (VAT) fraud investigation by HMRC should have strong and reliable representation from the outset.

KinsellaTax staff consists of ex-HM Inspector of Taxes and ex-HM Custom and Excise Officers, fully experienced in HMRC investigations.

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