Three people were arrested on 10th December in relation to suspicions over a potential VAT fraud concerning the world of horse racing. Investigators from HM Revenue and Customs made the arrests in two raids – one in High Wycombe and the other in Braintree.
According to the details that have been emerging, it seems as if the arrests are connected with a large scale VAT fraud that has been estimated at £2.4 million in size. Among the topics they were questioned about were money laundering and cheating the public revenue. False representation was also given as another line of questioning.
Possessions including computers were taken by the investigators and reports state the three people were all bailed. They are due to report back to police in early March next year.
Further information on the VAT fraud case indicates two business addresses were accessed by investigators working on the case. It is thought one of them may be at the Great Leighs racecourse, which is situated near Braintree. None of the individuals arrested is licensed to take part in the sport, and very little else is currently known about the circumstances of the arrests or who was involved.
One thing is sure though – HMRC is keen to point out this is just one example of their fight to tackle tax fraud wherever it might crop up. When people think about tax fraud they tend to think about not paying income tax. But as you can see it applies just as much to the area of VAT. HMRC has a Tax Evasion Hotline – a freephone number – that encourages people to call in with information if they believe they know of anything fraudulent in this area.
Perhaps surprisingly this is far from being the biggest fraud of its type in the UK. One of the biggest ever cases wrapped up last year. June 2012 saw the last member of a team of fifteen people jailed for contributing to a VAT fraud worth an incredible £176 million. Another probe came to an end late last year without any convictions to its name. The probe was created to investigate a huge VAT fraud amounting to around £500 million. As you can see, the arrests that came this week were a mere drop in the ocean compared to these cases, but they were far from being the smallest that HMRC is pursuing either.
In our news section we shall bring you the latest updates and news on all aspects of VAT changes and VAT fraud. It is unlikely we will hear more about this news until next year, but it does make you wonder how many other frauds are currently being perpetrated in this way.