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By | John Oates 6th February 2007 15:11

Customs arrests 10 alleged VAT-fraudsters

Carousel fraud

Customs arrested 10 people this morning suspected of involvement in a £250m carousel fraud.

The arrests were made as a result of Operation Euripus back in July 2003 - which saw 46 people arrested after raids on 93 addresses across Europe. As a result of that operation half a million pages of documents and 28 terabytes of other data were seized.

Today 10 men were arrested in England and Wales and are being brought to London police stations. More arrests are expected and searches are continuing at an address in Nuneaton. Arrest warrants have also been issued in France and Spain. The fraud involved a network of companies importing and exporting mobile phones.

Carousel fraud involves importing high value but VAT-free goods from another Community country. The goods are then sold on with VAT added before the company disappears without paying HMRC the VAT they are owed. In carousel frauds the goods move, or appear to move, several times with VAT extracted at every stage.

Euan Stewart, deputy director of Criminal Investigation for HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) said: "Tackling missing trader fraud is HMRC's top priority. We have a duty to protect the revenue given the scale and nature of the attack we are seeing. Today's arrests follow years of painstaking effort by dedicated officers."

HMRC estimates losses due to carousel fraud cost the UK revenue between £2bn and £3bn in the year 2005 to 2006.

Arrests were made in Beaconsfield (2), Bedworth (2), Bowdon, Coventry, London, Newport, Nuneaton and Uttoxeter.®

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