Man arrested in £multi-million fraud investigation

A HASTINGS man is one of 16 people who have been arrested as part of a multi-million pound VAT fraud.

On Tuesday (November 22) officers from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) carried out early morning raids across East Sussex, Lancashire and Merseyside investigating a suspected VAT fraud in excess of £4.3 million.

Around 85 investigators from HMRC, assisted by officers from a number of police forces, carried out searches of 19 business and residential addresses in Hastings, Preston, Liverpool, Blackpool and Accrington last Thursday (17 November).

The arrests follow a long-running HMRC investigation, codenamed Operation Grassland, into an alleged VAT fraud and the subsequent laundering of the criminal proceeds, linked mainly to the building trade.

Peter Hollier, HMRC Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation said: “Operation Grassland is an HMRC-led investigation targeting a suspected organised crime gang involved in VAT repayment fraud and the laundering of the criminal profits.

“Further details cannot be provided at this early stage, as our investigation is continuing. However, tax fraud and attempts to launder the proceeds of crime are treated extremely seriously by HMRC, and we will relentlessly pursue any individuals or crime gangs believed to be attacking the Public Revenue in this way.”