Man arrested in VAT fraud investigation

A 51-YEAR-OLD man has been arrested by customs officers investigating a suspected £1 million VAT fraud.

The fraud is linked to fake sales of disability equipment in Lancaster, Blackpool, Penrith and Workington.

Investigators from HMRC, assisted by UK Border Agency officers and local police, carried out searches of a canal boat in Leeds.

The arrest follows an HMRC investigation, codenamed Operation Cloudcastle, into the alleged VAT fraud and subsequent laundering of the criminal proceeds.

Mike O’Grady, HMRC Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation said: “This is an HMRC-led investigation targeting a suspected VAT repayment fraud over several years and the laundering of the criminal profits by businesses.

“Further details cannot be provided at this early stage, as our investigation is continuing.

“However, tax fraud and attempts to launder the proceeds of crime are treated extremely seriously by HMRC, and we will relentlessly pursue any individuals or crime gangs believed to be attacking the Public Revenue in this way.”

A 51 year old man has been bailed until April 19 for further enquiries to take place.