Six men which included Sikhs from Birmingham and one from Surrey have been jailed for a total of 63.5 years following a six year investigation by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) into a major conspiracy to steal £45 million in a ‘missing trader’ VAT fraud.
The defendants operated six companies within the ‘missing trader’ conspiracy buying and selling mobile phones and CD ROMs. They would regularly adopt the role of an exporting company, or broker at the end of the chain. They would reclaim VAT from HMRC, allegedly paid by them on earlier transactions, when they exported the goods. However, as no VAT had been paid anywhere in the chain this was the key part of their criminal plot to steal millions of pounds.
Adrian Farley Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation for HMRC said:
“This was not some kind of victimless crime, but organised fraud on a massive scale perpetrated by criminals all bent on making fast and easy profits at the expense of the British taxpayer. ‘Missing trader’ fraud is not merely a paper fraud but often features links to other forms of criminal activity including murder, shootings, kidnap, extortion and intimidation which bring devastation to our communities.”
He added: “This conclusion and sentencing in this latest investigation should ring alarm bells to those involved in this form of criminality. No matter how complex and devious the crimes, we are committed and determined to track down and bring before the courts those involved in serious organised crime.”
On sentencing His Honour Judge Rupert Nayo commented: “This was a vast conspiracy in which £250 million passed through your companies. Your actions were of naked and persistent dishonesty. I praise officers from HM Revenue & Customs for the way they had carried out the investigation effectively and efficiently from start to finish."