VAT gang jailed over £4m scam

Cash laun­dered through bank ac­counts

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS -

A GANG of VAT fraud­sters stole £4m by laun­der­ing money through high­pro­file busi­nesses’ bank ac­counts – in­clud­ing one be­long­ing to a dead col­league.

The four men ma­nip­u­lated the ac­counts of their haulage and heavy plant hire firm to hide mil­lions of pounds in cus­tomer VAT pay­ments, en­abling them to siphon off the money for them­selves.

The group was led by Don­ald McLeod, 52, of Dorch­ester Way, Hayes, and also in­cluded Arthur Spring, 56, of Brew­ery Close, Wem­b­ley, and Ed­ward Corr, 51, of Monks Park, Wem­b­ley, and Wil­liam Gal­lacher of Is­ling­ton.

The four were jailed for a to­tal of 20 years at South­wark Crown Court on Thurs­day, March 19.

Their scam was foiled by an HM Rev­enue and Cus­toms (HMRC) in­ves­ti­ga­tion, which found that more than £16m passed through the group’s com­pany ac­counts be­tween 2004 and 2012.

Dur­ing that time, the men si­phoned off £4m in VAT pay­ments, set up false busi­ness bank ac­counts and used a late as­so­ciate’s ac­count to laun­der the cash.

John Cooper, HMRC’s as­sis­tant direc­tor of crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions, said: “This crim­i­nal group thought they had de­vel­oped the per­fect plan to steal from the UK tax­payer and laun­der their profit with­out de­tec­tion or hav­ing to face the con­se­quences.

“They were wrong and are now pay­ing the price.”

In Septem­ber 2012, HMRC of­fi­cers ar­rested the four men and searched 15 do­mes­tic and busi­ness premises across Lon­don and south­ern Eng­land.

Com­put­ers, mo­bile phones and busi­ness records were seized, along with £37,500 in cash, which was given back to the public purse. In to­tal, around 100 HMRC of­fi­cers took part in the ar­rest and search op­er­a­tion, dubbed Op­er­a­tion Co­cobean.

The Mid­dle­sex and north Lon­don-based com­pa­nies that fronted the fraud were DM Ser­vices, DJM Ser­vices Ltd, O’Con­nor Plant and Heavy Trans Ltd.

Th­ese com­pa­nies car­ried out high-pro­file work, in­clud­ing putting up the Christ­mas lights at Covent Gar­den and clear­ing waste from the Lon­don 2012 Olympics site.

All four fraud­sters were charged with cheat­ing the public rev­enue.

Con­fis­ca­tion pro­ceed­ings are now un­der way to re­claim their crim­i­nal prof­its.

Don­ald McLeod, 52, of Dorch­ester Way, Hayes, was found guilty and sen­tenced to seven years im­pris­on­ment. He was also dis­qual­i­fied from be­ing a com­pany direc­tor for 10 years.

Wil­liam Gal­lacher, 47, of Sus­sex Way, Is­ling­ton, was found guilty and sen­tenced to five years and nine months im­pris­on­ment.

Arthur Spring, 56, of Brew­ery Close, Wem­b­ley, pleaded guilty and was sen­tenced to three years and nine months im­pris­on­ment. He was also dis­qual­i­fied from be­ing a com­pany direc­tor for 10 years. Spring used var­i­ous aliases as part of the fraud, in­clud­ing the name Neil Do­herty.

Ed­ward Corr, 51, of Monks Park, Wem­b­ley, pleaded guilty and was sen­tenced to three years and nine months im­pris­on­ment. He was dis­qual­i­fied from be­ing a com­pany direc­tor for 10 years. Corr also used var­i­ous aliases, in­clud­ing the name David John Man­gan.

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