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HMRC Makes 10 Arrests In Missing Trader Fraud Swoop

by Jason Gorringe, Tax-News.com, London

07 February 2007


Customs officers investigating a suspected GBP250 million VAT missing trader fraud made 10 arrests on Tuesday morning in UK-wide raids, it has emerged.

Codenamed Operation Euripus, yesterday's action follows a five year investigation, which included one of the biggest swoops ever undertaken by Customs. In July 2003, 350 officers raided 93 premises across the UK and Spain, and made 42 arrests.

The unprecedented scale of that operation led to a vast amount of material which has been analysed over the last three years. According to HMRC, more than half a million documents have been systematically examined, along with the hard drives of 391 computers, with a combined data capacity of 28 terabytes.

Tuesday's arrests took place across England and Wales. Further arrests are expected, and European arrest warrants have been issued in France and Spain against four individuals.

Euan Stewart, Deputy Director, Criminal Investigation for HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) announced that:

"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. The sophistication of the organised crime gangs behind these frauds means that our investigations are increasingly complex but we are committed to bringing the criminals behind it to justice and to recovering the money stolen from the British taxpayer, wherever in the world our investigations lead. This is not victimless crime, it's organised crime that causes real harm."


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