Four men from Gravesend and Surrey have been sentenced to a total of 25 years in jail for their roles in a fraud worth more than £23 million.
Narinder Chada and Gurmail Dosanjh, both from the Gravesend area, set up companies to buy carbon credits. They would sell them at competitive prices on the open market. But by keeping the VAT they received, rather than passing it on to the Government, they deprived the UK public purse of £11.7 million.
Two other defendants, father and son duo Daniel Andrew Barrs and Daniel Barrs facilitated money laundering for this fraud and a previous case dealt with by HMRC in 2012. The total amount laundered was in excess of £23 million.
The Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate commenced an investigation in May 2011 after information was passed to the force by HMRC. The first arrests were made in April 2012 and the case came to trial in 2015.
The two month-long trial at Southwark Crown Court concluded on 26 March, and on 21 April the four men were back at court to be sentenced.
Chada, 62, from The Russetts in Meopham and Dosanjh, 46, from Singlewell Road in Gravesend had both been found guilty of conspiracy to cheat the public purse of £11.7 million. The judge sentenced them to seven years and eight years respectively.
Barrs, 65, from New Place Gardens in Lingfield was given three seven year sentences for money for facilitating money laundering. The jail terms will run concurrently.
Barrs’ 29 year-old son, from Suffolk Close in Horley, was given three sentences of three years each for facilitating money laundering. His jail terms will also run concurrently.
"The group traded in carbon credits, which allow companies to legitimately produce more carbon dioxide than they would otherwise be permitted to. They are an ideal commodity for this type of fraud because they do not exist in a physical sense. The offenders used companies to buy credits from overseas and sell them in the UK. They collected the proceeds of their sales and then dishonestly and deliberately abused the VAT system. When the offences took place in 2009, the rate of VAT was 15 per cent. The more carbon credits they sold, the more VAT they could charge and keep. Invoices and paperwork were required to convince HMRC that the trade was genuine, but otherwise the fraud was relatively straightforward. In all, the offenders charged their customers £11.7 million in VAT and moved the money between several companies to try and cover their tracks. We followed the trail of laundered cash from the UK to Europe, the Middle East and as far as New Zealand and Australia. Barrs and Barrs facilitated the money laundering by setting up three offshore corporate structures and provided money laundering platforms within overseas bank accounts. This was a very organised operation but we were determined to piece together enough evidence to bring those responsible to justice. This was not a victim-less crime. By depriving the Government of millions of pounds of VAT, the offenders were in effect stealing from all UK taxpayers. The money should have been spent on schools, hospitals and other services. Once sentencing has been passed, the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate will be using Proceeds of Crime Act legislation to attempt to recoup as much of the money for the taxpayer as possible. I hope this case serves as a warning to anyone trying to commit tax fraud that the authorities, whether Kent Police or HMRC, will catch up with you."