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Fraudsters jailed for total of 21 years

PUBLISHED: 20:10 29 April 2004 | UPDATED: 04:49 02 March 2010

FOUR men are starting jail terms totalling of 21 years today after Suffolk customs officers thwarted what they suspect to be a £25m fraud.

The quartet were sentenced at Snaresbrook Crown Court after being found guilty of evading £16 million VAT at a previous hearing, reported in The Evening Star last month.

FOUR men are starting jail terms totalling of 21 years today after Suffolk customs officers thwarted what they suspect to be a £25m fraud.

The quartet were sentenced at Snaresbrook Crown Court after being found guilty of evading £16 million VAT at a previous hearing, reported in The Evening Star last month.

Although it did not come to trial because of the complicated nature of the £16 case, investigating officers based in Ipswich, also believe the gang were responsible for another identical £9m fraud.

Paul Vass, 37, of Cedarwood, Old Avenue, St George's Hill, Weybridge, was jailed for eight years, while Richard Anthony How, 37, of Kingfisher Road, Shefford, Bedfordshire, was imprisoned for four years.

Anthony Perkins, 64, from Bedfordshire was also jailed for 4 years.

A fourth member of the cartel, a 35-year-old man from Leicestershire, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, sentenced to five years.

Spinning an intricate web of importers and buffer companies the four carried out 'carousel' or missing trader intra community (MTIC) fraud on a massive scale.

Jim Jarvie, assistant chief investigation officer for the eastern region, based at Ipswich, said: "MTIC fraud can generate very large sums of money. It is money being diverted into the pockets of criminals which funds their lavish lifestyles. Stopping this attack on the tax system is a top priority for Customs. Over the past three years we have had in place a nationally co-ordinated strategy to tackle it which is successfully helping to protect both legitimate business and the public purse."

In addition to the VAT fraud charges How and Perkins were also convicted on a money laundering charge, after Customs found that more than £2 million from this scam had been transferred to bank accounts in Israel.

The trial, which lasted six months, heard how computer chips were imported from the Republic of Ireland in February and March 2001, and traded through a number of buffer companies in the UK. When the chips were sold back to an Irish company, without payment of VAT, only to be imported again the 'carousel' started. Over a period of six weeks around £64 million went through the bank account of one of the companies involved in Ampthill, Bedfordshire.

However the £7 million VAT due to be paid to Customs was siphoned off. A further carousel of importations was found to have been perpetrated in 2000, this time using a company in Hinckley, Leicestershire. The sum stolen then was £9 million.

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