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Customs arrest 21 in £7m PC component tax fraud probe

Operation Darken

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Twenty one people have been arrested during a raid by Customs & Excise officers investigating a multi-million pound VAT (value added tax) fraud involving computer components.

The 21 people, arrested and released during a raid on 12 addresses in the UK on Tuesday, are suspected on importing computer components worth millions from other European Union states and then disappearing before tax bills on equipment they sold became due.

Customs and Excise spokesman Bill O'Learly said the alleged fraud involved the importation of PC processors, motherboards and memory. The scope of the tax evasion was still being determined, he said, but could be as much as £7 million.

As well the arrests, customs officers seized assets worth an estimated £500 000 during the operation, which is codenamed Darken, and involved a raid on 12 addresses involving 100 officers.

The men arrested have been released on bail without charge, and will be re-interviewed at a later date. ®

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