The twenty one arrests, consisting of eighteen men and three women, were made covering areas as diverse as the West Midlands, Staffordshire, London and Greater Manchester. The suspects were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to ‘cheat the public revenue’ and ‘money laundering’ offences amounting to over £6 m. They were questioned by HMRC criminal investigators at various UK police stations.
The plot centers on a complicated conspiracy through a version of ‘missing trader’ fraud which sees the creation of a contrived chain of companies, which claim to subcontract labour for the construction industry, with the sole intention of disappearing before paying the taxes due are payable under the ‘Construction Industry Scheme’ (CIS) to HMRC. These organised criminal gangs, in a bid to steal millions of pounds, pocket the money and hijack legitimate companies along the way.
This conspiracy exploits individuals working in the construction industry and it is believed thousands of construction site workers may have been robbed of the tax and national insurance contributions they have had deducted under the CIS scheme over the last six years.
Adrian Farley, Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation for HMRC, said: “Today’s arrests are the result of strenuous efforts by our teams of dedicated officers to disrupt the sophisticated scams of organised crime gangs behind money laundering activities. This conspiracy by a number of contractors is believed to have resulted in the theft of over £6 million from the public purse, depriving vital public services of much needed investment. We are committed to bringing them to justice and to deprive them of the proceeds of their crime.”
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