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AML / CFT: "Tax evasion is serious, blatant theft" - HMRC officer

Chris Martin, Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation for HM Revenue and Customer in the UK was speaking after securing a conviction over a GBP78 million mortgage fraud - and a GBP12 million value added tax fraud.

HM Revenue & Customs investigators discovered that the two men had hijacked plans of a hotel project in Mauritius. They signed contracts with furniture providers to furnish the project and tried to reclaim over GBP12 million in VAT from HMRC. The fraud was discovered before any money was paid out.

GBP8.8 million was paid out to the fraudsters in mortgage payments, but intervention by the Metropolitan Police prevented a further £70 million in fraudulent mortgage payments being made in relation to the purchase of two commercial premises.

Martin Conrad, (32) (also known as Mitain Conrad, Mitain Patel, and Conrad Martin) from Mauritius, (formerly of Wimbledon, London and Caterham, Surrey) and Richard Murkin (44) of Ashford, Kent, pleaded guilty in January 2011 to the fraudulent attempts to obtain the VAT repayment.

They also pleaded guilty to mortgage fraud, attempted mortgage fraud and money laundering offences after a Metropolitan Police investigation.

They were both sentenced to five years for the mortgage fraud and two years for the VAT fraud, to run consecutively, at Southwark Crown Court today.

When passing sentence, His Honour Judge Pitts said: "This was an audacious and sophisticated fraud, which required expert synchronisation."

Detective Constable, Simon Hanrahan, from the Metropolitan Police’s Money Laundering Investigation Team was less impressed with the pair: “Both Martin Conrad and Richard Murkin have been responsible for a series of audacious frauds which have caused substantial losses to financial institutions and much distress to innocent people who have found their homes sold without their knowledge."

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