February 6 2013.

Members of a gang, who set up bogus companies with the sole intention of committing tax fraud, have been jailed for their part in a £300,000 VAT scam.

Three men, two from the West Midlands and one from Manchester, were caught after an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
The gang set up nine bogus firms including a clothing manufacturer, a publishing house and a software engineering company. They then submitted VAT repayment claims from these companies, but there was no evidence of trading.

Adrian Farley, Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation for HMRC, said: "This case sends a clear message to anyone involved or considering fraud against HMRC - your time is up. We are working relentlessly to combat those involved in tax evasion and fraud and bring them before the courts. With over £10 billion being stolen from UK finances each year by criminals, it is serious crime which we are determined to eradicate.

"We would encourage anyone with information on tax evasion and fraud to contact the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000."

HMRC criminal investigators arrested the men in dawn raids in March 2012. They searched five residential properties - three in the West Midlands, one in Staffordshire and one in Manchester. Computers and business records were seized along with banking documents.