Seven held over 'carbon credits' fraud
Seven people were arrested in early morning raids today by investigators looking into a £38 million VAT fraud involving the trading of emissions allowances.
A total of 27 properties, both business and residential, were searched in London and the Gravesend area of Kent, and further arrests are likely, HM Revenue and Customs said.
The suspects are believed to be part of an organised crime group operating a network of companies trading large volumes of high-value emissions allowances, often called carbon credits.
The fraudulent firms buy carbon credits from overseas VAT-free sources and then sell them on to businesses in the UK at a VAT-inclusive price.
But the VAT charged by the fraudulent companies never sees its way to Revenue and Customs, and it is thought the proceeds in this case have been used to fund lavish lifestyles.
Les Beaumont, deputy director of criminal investigation for HM Revenue and Customs, said: "HMRC investigates all criminal attacks on the tax system, halting theft of revenue, gathering evidence and supporting prosecutors in bringing offenders before the courts.
"We always aim to recover the proceeds of crime, restoring that money to the public purse where it belongs. That is our intention in this and similar cases.
"The Government took decisive action to prevent this type of fraud recurring by zero rating carbon credits for VAT."
Officers from Europol, the European Union law enforcement organisation that handles criminal intelligence, is helping Revenue and Customs with the inquiry.
Today's arrests, involving six men and a woman, were made in Gravesend, Hounslow, Southall, Isleworth and Erith.
Officers from the UK Border Agency and police used sniffer dogs to detect cash in properties.
Greek hospitals cannot afford painkillers, scissors or sheets as budget cuts bite
Purity balls: Girls in the US making virginity pledges as fathers vow to 'protect purity'
Bulgarian seaside resort Sunny Beach is cheapest for beer
Female Muay Thai champion hustles coaches to give them a beating
Puerto Rico, island of lost dreams: People are leaving the debt-hit territory in droves as near neighbour Cuba's star rises
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
Report finds that Britain's wages are the most unequal in Europe
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
Almost a third of school pupils believe 'Muslims are taking over our country', study claims
Gay marriage 'Bert and Ernie' cake bakery found guilty of discrimination in Northern Ireland
- 1 Eurovision 2015: Graham Norton returns with another cutting commentary - his best lines
- 2 Purity balls: Girls in the US making virginity pledges as fathers vow to 'protect purity'
- 3 Eurovision 2015 winner: Sweden beats Russia and Italy to take title from Conchita Wurst
- 4 Mother 'will allow son's circumcision in return for release from prison'
- 5 Puerto Rico, island of lost dreams: People are leaving the debt-hit territory in droves as near neighbour Cuba's star rises