Ex-policeman admits £300 million VAT fraud

A former police officer has admitted a £300 million VAT fraud believed to be the biggest in UK history.

Nigel Cranswick, 47, was a director of Ideas 2 Go (I2G), which he ran from a small office in a Sheffield business park, and claimed to have bought and sold at least £2 billion of goods in just eight months.



He has since admitted the firm's trading, largely in mobile phones and computer software, was fictitious, and the aim was to generate paperwork from fake sales in order to claim back a fortune in VAT from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).



A source close to the case, which has taken five years to investigate, said it was believed to be the largest of its kind ever taken to court.



Prosecution documents said: "In its eight-month trading life I2G's business documentation reveals that it purported to buy and sell goods in many thousands of deals, to the value of at least £2 billion.



"This included about £300m of VAT, which it was purportedly charged by its suppliers.



"The trade was not genuine and this £300m was the target of the defendants."



The document continues: "Despite this phenomenal turnover of over £2 billion, I2G operated from a very small and modest office accommodation in a Sheffield business park.



"The defendants, who were its officers and employees and purported to carry out billions of pounds of business, had no previous experience in either the mobile phone industry or in running any business on such a grand scale."



Cranswick, of Danby Road, Kiveton, Sheffield, admitted conspiracy to cheat HMRC.



Brian Olive, 56, of Buttermere Close, Doncaster, and Darren Smyth, 42, of Beech Road, Maltby, Rotherham, admitted the same charge.



Cranswick's 44-year-old sister Clare Reid, of the same address as Smyth, admitted two counts of false accounting.



They pleaded guilty on the eve of a trial at Newcastle Crown Court and will be sentenced, along with two other defendants, next month.



Paul Rooney, HM Revenue & Customs assistant director for criminal investigation, said: "This was a sophisticated fraud designed to steal hundreds of millions of pounds of tax.



"HMRC investigators unravelled a complex web of fake business transactions fabricated to conceal the massive financial fraud."



Cranswick joined South Yorkshire Police in 1997, aged 33, and left the force a few weeks after I2G started trading in 2005. By then he and his wife, Nicola, owed £42,000 on top of their mortgage.

Within a few weeks of I2G starting, the couple could afford portraits costing £2,208, teeth bleaching at £700, landscaping at £4,725 and more than £3,100 of furniture.



Recruits to the supposed multibillion-pound business Olive and Smyth - Cranswick's brother-in-law - had previously worked as rail track maintenance men. I2G employed Reid as an administrator.



The prosecution document stated I2G's claimed £2 billion turnover in just eight months was "pure fantasy".



Those figures were based on the supposed purchase and resale of around 4.6 million mobile phones.



It was claimed I2G made sales of £527 million in its first six weeks of trading.



"Nobody, not even the simplest of men, could have ever believed that such a turnover could be achieved legitimately," the prosecution document said.



I2G had paperwork supposedly showing sales of phones that were not yet available, or at prices far above the real wholesale price.



Cranswick, who rented a villa in Marbella, Spain, styles himself as a singer-songwriter and can be seen on his website strumming a guitar to a song called Hit And Miss with the opening lines: "I'm in trouble, falling down a hole. How I got here, I won't ever know."



He is lead singer with an indie band called Not The Police.





PA

News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
News
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
tech
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments