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Green tax 'scam' foiled

PUBLISHED: 15:39 26 August 2009 | UPDATED: 11:00 23 August 2010

SEVEN people have been arrested and quizzed by officers investigating a suspected £38 million VAT fraud. HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) officers carried out 27 early morning raids last Wednesday, making arrests in Gravesend, Erith and other parts of London.

SEVEN people have been arrested and quizzed by officers investigating a suspected £38 million VAT fraud.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) officers carried out 27 early morning raids last Wednesday, making arrests in Gravesend, Erith and other parts of London.

The suspected fraud involved the trading of emissions allowances - often called 'carbon credits'.

Police believe their targets to be part of an organised crime group operating a network of companies trading large volumes of high-value carbon credits.

Two people, a woman and a man, were arrested in Gravesend and one man in Erith. Four men were also held in Hounslow, Southall and Isleworth.

Les Beaumont, deputy director of criminal investigation for HMRC said: "We investigate all criminal attacks on the tax system, halting theft of revenue, gathering evidence and supporting prosecutors in bringing offenders before the courts.

"We always aim to recover the proceeds of crime, restoring that money to the public purse where it belongs. That is our intention in this and all similar cases.

"We will also do our utmost to prevent a recurrence, either of the type of fraud or criminal behaviour by those convicted of fraud. That includes consideration by prosecutors of financial reporting orders and serious crime prevention orders."

It is thought that the proceeds of the suspected scam have been used to fund lavish lifestyles and the purchase of expensive cars.

The companies were thought to purchase carbon credits from overseas VAT-free sources, then sell them on to UK businesses without paying off the taxman.

Officers used sniffer dogs to carry out searches for cash and those arrested were taken to separate police stations for questioning before being released on bail.

HMRC believes further arrests are likely as the investigation continues.

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