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VAT fraudsters ordered to repay criminal profits

Press Release   •   Jul 21, 2015 17:41 BST

Convicted fraudsters, who were part of an 18-strong crime gang that stole £20 million in a mobile phone VAT fraud, have been ordered to repay over £2.3 million, as part of ongoing confiscation proceedings by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Albert Amritanand, 69, from Scotland, was ordered to repay £502,214 on Friday or face a further five years in prison. He is the ninth gang member to receive a confiscation order since the gang was jailed for a total of 135 years, after a long and complex criminal investigation by HMRC, called Operation Vaulter.

Those previously jailed are from Cheshire, East Sussex, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, North Wales, Staffordshire, Scotland and Spain.

Kevin Newe, Assistant Director, Criminal Investigation, HMRC, said:

“Confiscation orders totalling £2.3 million have already been made in this case, and further proceedings are ongoing.

“We are determined that crime gangs such as this one, should be prosecuted and then made to repay their criminal gain.”

The investigation led to four criminal trials between 2012 and 2014.

Since sentencing, the gang members who profited from the fraud, have appeared before His Honour Judge Campbell to face individual confiscation orders. The largest confiscation order to date was issued in April 2015 to Mark Brewer, 50, from Knutsford, Cheshire, who was ordered to pay £1,084,765 or face a further six years in prison.

The gang claimed to be trading in the importation and sale of mobile phones, but investigators showed that this complex web of transactions was a sham and in some cases the mobile phones didn’t exist – the gang had simply fabricated their business in order to submit VAT repayment claims.

HMRC also discovered that the gang had made complex arrangements to hide their criminal profit, laundering it through various bank accounts in Andorra, Dubai, Hong Kong, USA, Switzerland, Portugal and the UK.

As part of the investigation HMRC restrained assets and £300,000 in cash as part of the recovery of the stolen tax.

Notes to Editors

1.Confiscation orders issued to date as part of Operation Vaulter:

-Martyn Davies (DOB 16.05.80) of Brookway, Rochdale, Greater Manchester - £26,886, made on 20 October 2014, to be paid within six months or a default prison sentence of 12 months.

-Jason Brierley (DOB 30.09.67) of Claymere Avenue, Norden, Rochdale, Greater Manchester - £89,048 made on 24 November 2014, to be paid within six months or a default prison sentence of two years.

-Adrian Charles Geston (DOB 24.11.62) of Moorland Road, Leek, Staffordshire - £50,000, made on 9 January 2015, to be paid within six months or a default prison sentence of 18 months.

-Mitchell Harvey (DOB 04.01.68) of Station Road, Turriff, Aberdeen, Scotland - £250,000, made on 28 January 2015, to be paid within six months or a default prison sentence of three years.

-Mark Brewer (DOB 11.06.65) of Goughs Lane, Knutsford, Cheshire - £1,084,765, made on 8 April 2015, to be paid within six months or default prison sentence of six years.

-Christopher Gibbs (DOB 16.02.69) of Meliden Road, Prestatyn, Denbighshire, Wales - £7,121, made on 22 April 2015, to be paid within three months or a default prison sentence of four and a half months.

-Lee Jonathan Hart (DOB 01.12.74) of Leigh Road, Worsley, Manchester - £350,000 made on 20 May 2015, to be paid within six months or a default prison sentence of three years

-Darly Meek, (DOB 12.11.72) of Heathcote Street, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire - £1,116 made on 8 July 2015, to be paid within three months or default prison sentence of one month.

- Albert Amritanand (DOB 17.12.45) of Reswallie, Murton, Forfar, Scotland - £502,214 made on 17 July 2015, to be paid within one month or default prison sentence of five years.

2.There is no appeal against default jail sentences issued in confiscation proceedings.

3.Follow HMRC’s Press Office on Twitter @hmrcpressoffice

4.HMRC’s Flickr channel www.flickr.com/hmrcgovuk

Issued by HM Revenue & Customs Press Office

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is the UK’s tax authority.

HMRC is responsible for making sure that the money is available to fund the UK’s public services and for helping families and individuals with targeted financial support.