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Group lived the high-life at taxpayers expense
Six members of a Staffordshire-based crime gang who tried to claim £1.5 million in a VAT scam have been jailed today.
The group fraudulently claimed to be trading internationally in scrap metal, and faked paperwork about to claim back VAT they weren’t entitled to.
They pretended to move consignments of nickel, tin and copper between UK scrap metal yards and later from Austria to the UK.
A 14 month investigation, codenamed Operation Vita, saw dawn raids in January 2008, by HM Revenue & Customs officers.
False sales and purchase invoices showed the shipment of metals to Ireland and to Cyprus via Belgium, but in reality the goods never left the UK.
The fraud bank-rolled the lavish lifestyle of its principal player, Stafford man Michael Bostock, who drove a fleet of sports cars and lived in a property valued at £1.4 million.
Bostock pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years in prison.
Mohammed Shabir Hussain of Tower Court in Newcastle under Lyme was found guilty and sentenced to four years in prison.
He was considered Bostock’s right-hand man, who prepared paperwork and arranged for outside investment to fund metals trading.
Freelance metals trader and consultant employed by Bostock’s company Michael Davie of De Havilland Drive in Stone pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years in prison.
Director of two freight forwarding companies used to transport metals within the UK, Michael Bexon of Holly Meadow in Stoke on Trent pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years.
Evidence was recovered from Mohammed's brother, Jamiel Hussain's Lamotte Close home in Stoke on Trent included counterfeit ink-stamps for certifying shipping documents and weighbridge tickets, showing the true UK destinations of metals purported to have been shipped abroad, and false documents.
He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for two years.
A director of a Cypriot company Nicholas Richmond, created false invoices and other paperwork purporting to show the movement of metals between his business in Cyprus and Bostock's company in the UK.
He was found guilty and sentenced to three years in prison.
On sentencing His Honour Judge Ian Tomlinson, commented: "This conspiracy was fraudulent from the outset and was professionally planned. The defendants were living beyond their means – living the high-life at the expense of the taxpayer.”