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CAB team probe golf VAT 'fraud'.

Byline: ANN MOONEY

THE Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) is investigating the development of a golf club as part of its investigation into a suspected international multi-million euro VAT dodging operation.

Detectives suspect money invested in the club on the south coast could be part of the proceeds of what is known as "carousel fraud".

CAB officers raided accountants, solicitors and other businesses as well as a number of private premises in Cork recently in connection with the inquiry.

The early morning raids were part of a combined operation involving more than 30 officers from CAB, the investigative branch of Customs and Excise and senior gardai from Anglesea Street Garda headquarters in the city.

Hundreds of documents were seized and are now being examined.

A source said: "The aim is to see if we can link the purchase of huge tracts of land in South Cork to large scale VAT/Carousel fraud."

Carousel fraud has been described as a type of merry-go-round where the purchase and repeated resale of a product with a high value is used as a means to defraud the tax authorities.

The suspected Cork-based operation is believed to be importing central processing units, which although only the size of a large stamp are the brains of a computer and can be easily transported in big numbers.

The suspects have been under surveillance by CAB for at least nine months.

The source added: "We believe the money made from this scheme may have been used to purchase large amounts of land in West Cork.

"The case we are currently dealing with is remarkably similar to the operation which led to the arrest of a Clare man last year.

"A number of Irish companies with British connections are at the heart of our investigations.

"We have been working on this with British Customs and Excise officials as it is their exchequer which is suffering the losses."

The Clare man arrested in November was remanded in custody after appearing at the Old Bailey in connection with alleged VAT fraud estimated at pounds 162million sterling.

Revenue sources estimate that Britain is losing pounds 5million a day because of carousel fraud.
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 31, 2003
Words:359
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