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11 November 2011, 16:16 | Updated: 30 March 2016, 13:50
A former police officer from Sheffield who admitted his part in a £365 million VAT fraud has been jailed for 10 years and three months.
The conspiracy that Nigel Cranswick directed has taken the equivalent of 25 years of work to investigate, Judge Brian Forster said.
The 47-year-old ex-officer was a director of Ideas 2 Go, and, despite its modest base in a Sheffield business park, he claimed it bought and sold £2 billion worth of goods in just eight months.
He has since admitted that the firm's trading, largely in mobile phones and computer software, was fictitious, and the aim was to generate paperwork from fake sales in order to claim back a fortune in VAT from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
Judge Forster, sitting at Newcastle Crown Court, said: "This case concerned planned dishonesty resulting in the loss to the Revenue in the region of £365 million." There were purported sales of billions of pounds.
"The prosecution rightly described the case as an unprecedented attack on the Revenue. The case has taken 25 man-years to investigate.''
Cranswick was recruited to play his role in the missing Trader intra-community (MTIC) fraud by others. Also known as carousel fraud, it involves importing goods from other EU states which are then sold through contrived business-to-business transactions.
Cranswick, of Danby Road, Kiveton, Sheffield, admitted conspiracy to cheat HMRC at a hearing last month.
After the sentencing, Exchequer Secretary David Gauke said: "This Government will not tolerate dishonest people stealing public money.
This sentence shows that those who try to commit fraud need to think again - HMRC will find you and the courts will punish you.''