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Customs arrest 22 in £50m VAT fraud probe

30 UK premises raided during Operation Capri

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Customs and Excise officers investigating an alleged £50 million VAT fraud yesterday arrested 22 people in a series of raids throughout the UK.

The suspected multi-million pound missing trader VAT fraud involved the purchasing of CPUs from Europe.

The 22 arrested people were detained during 30 co-ordinated raids on business premises throughout the UK yesterday as part of Operation Capri. The searches and arrests were made in Andover, Birmingham, Cornwall, Coventry, Essex, Leicester, Manchester, Northern Ireland and London. Searches were also carried out in Holland.

Customs officers are interviewing those arrested at police stations throughout the UK. Investigations are continuing and charges have yet to be made.

Missing trader fraud is where the fraudsters obtain VAT registration to acquire goods VAT free from other member states. They then sell the goods at VAT inclusive prices and disappear without paying the VAT paid by their customers to the tax authorities.

Customs have assigned 340 staff to tackle this type of fraud in the hopes of reducing fraud losses by at least £750 million by the end of 2003-04. ®

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