Five men have been jailed this week at Southwark Crown Court for a total of 15 years after a £17 million ‘missing trader’ VAT fraud. A sixth is awaiting sentencing. HM Revenue & Customs conducted a four-and-a-half year investigation that involved mobile phone accessories, SIM cards and digital memory. A further £5 million of VAT claims were stopped, with an additional £300 million planned.
Gary Lampon, Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation for HMRC, said “This was organised fraud on a massive scale used to blatantly fund the extravagant lifestyles of this criminal gang at the expense of the British taxpayer. ‘Missing trader’ fraud is not merely a paper fraud, it is organised crime and we are determined to pursue and bring to justice the criminals behind this type of fraud and confiscate the proceeds of their crimes.”
The gang’s cash proceeds were used to purchase a number of high-value items, including several properties worth over £1 million each, a Rolls Royce Phantom and a Ferrari. Over £8 million of assets have been restrained so far and confiscation proceedings are underway.
Harbinder Singh Samra, described as one of the ‘principal players’ in the fraud and sentenced to four and a half years in prison, was shot four times during the conspiracy while getting into his Rolls Royce outside The Hardwick public house in Walsall, West Midlands.