Four people have been arrested by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) officers investigating a £38 million suspected VAT fraud. The alleged fraud involved the trading of emissions allowances (often called ‘carbon credits’).

Criminal investigators also discovered large amounts of cash and firearms during the raids on seven properties in the London and Leicester areas.

The arrests are linked to raids that took place in August 2009 where nine individuals were arrested. All those arrested today and last August are believed to be part of an organised crime group operating a network of companies trading large volumes of high-value carbon credits.

The fraudulent companies allegedly purchased carbon credits from overseas VAT free sources and then sold them on to businesses in the UK at a VAT inclusive price. The VAT charged by the fraudulent companies was never paid to HMRC.

Chris Martin, Assistant Director, London, Criminal Investigation for HMRC stated:

““HMRC investigates all criminal attacks on the tax system, gathering evidence to prevent fraud and enabling prosecutors to bring offenders before the courts.

“These arrests are the result of the hard work that our investigators have carried out during a sustained and complex 15 month operation.”