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By | John Oates 30th October 2006 15:32

£10m VAT fraud gang jailed

Carousel con halted

Four members of a carousel VAT fraud gang were found guilty by Canterbury Crown Court late last week.

One gang member was sentenced to 10 years in prison while three other members got eight years each.

The offences were committed in 2003 and involved supposed export of mobile phones to Kiev in the Ukraine. All four men are disqualified from acting as company directors for 10 years.

Virgini Ltd, which the men operated, claimed £10m in VAT payments during that period.

Carousel fraud involves moving goods between European Union and non-European Union countries and fraudulently claiming back the VAT. The good are either moved, or more often just appear to move, between several countries gaining the fraudsters another VAT payment at each stage.

Customs discovered the fraud in 2003 when it intercepted just under £1m in cash being delivered to two of the gang.

The four convicted were:

  • Durgesh Mehta, 51, a director of Virgini Ltd, of Chalfont St Peter. He got ten years for cheating the public revenue, three sentences of five years for money laundering and eight years for conspiracy to transfer criminal property under the Proceeds of Crime Act. All sentences will run concurrently.
  • Gerald Reardon, 55, of Molash, near Canterbury. He got eight years for conspiracy to transfer criminal property under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
  • Matthew Sharman, 43, of Langdon Hills, Essex. He got eight years for conspiracy to transfer criminal property under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
  • Peter Ratcliff, 54, of Ashtead, Surrey. He got eight years for conspiracy to transfer criminal property under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

The case was pursued by HMRC's independent prosecuting body - the Revenue and Customs Prosecuting Office (RCPO) - set up in April 2005. ®

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