Six people have been jailed after a scrap metal export scam that saw them cheat the taxman out of hundreds of thousands of pounds.
The Staffordshire-based gang fraudulently claimed to trade internationally in scrap metal to claim £1.5m in VAT refunds.
Gang leader Michael Bostock, 37, of Stafford, drove a fleet of performance vehicles including a Mercedes McLaren, a Ferrari Scaglietti and a Lamborghini Gallardo.
HM Revenue and Customs assistant director of criminal investigation Gary Lampon said: “The gang, led by Bostock, operated a network of companies that supposedly traded internationally in large quantities of scrap metal.
“They created false paperwork and claimed to move consignments of nickel, tin and copper between UK scrap metal yards and later from Austria to the UK, in order to claim back VAT they weren’t entitled to.
“The sophistication of the fraud led to a lengthy and complex investigation but we will not be deterred from pursuing those behind such crimes in order to bring them before the courts.”
False sales and purchase invoices were created to show the shipment of metals to Ireland and to Cyprus via Belgium. However, in reality the goods never left the UK but were diverted to another UK scrap yard.
False export paperwork was used to justify zero-rating for VAT purposes, allowing them to retain the VAT charged instead of paying it to HMRC.
Bostock, formerly of 3 Penzance Way, Stafford, Staffordshire, was sentenced to five years in prison. He is already serving an 18-month sentence following a hearing in October 2011 when he pleaded guilty to 77 counts of contempt of court.
Mohammed Shabir Hussain, of Flat 18, Tower Court, 1 London Road, Newcastle under Lyme, Staffordshire, was sentenced to four years in prison.
Michael Davies of 39 De Havilland Drive, Yarnfield, Stone, Staffordshire, was sentenced to three years in prison.
Michael Bexon of 1 Holly Meadow, Leigh, Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire, was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years.
Jamiel Hussain, of 2 Lamotte Close, Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire, was sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for two years.
Nicholas Richmond, of 75 High Street, Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, was sentenced to three years in prison.