Three gang members have been jailed for a total of 35 years for carrying out a £38m VAT fraud through a complex chain of carbon credit trades.
Sandeep Singh Dosanjh, Navdeep Singh Gill and Ranjot Singh Chahal set up a chain of bogus companies in order to fraudulently trade in the EU emissions allowances through a complex 'missing trader' scheme in a six-month period, starting in January 2009.
After the bogus companies imported the carbon credits free of VAT into the UK, they sold the credits on, charging VAT which was never paid to HMRC, and then dissolved the importing companies.
The credits were then sold on again between three further "buffer" companies - also run by the gang - before being sold on to legitimate companies.
VAT charged by the 'missing trader' was then shared out between the gang and, after going through offshore accounts to ‘clean' the money, was spent on luxury cars and an expensive London home.
However, they were arrested by HMRC officers in a series of dawn raids in August 2009 and the law has been changed to prevent carbon credit VAT fraud as a direct result of the investigation.
HMRC's Chris Martin said: "This was a deliberate attempt to steal as much money as possible from the public purse by a criminal gang interested only in lining their own pockets. HMRC will not stand by and let crooks rip off honest taxpayers.
"The message is clear - if you attempt to defraud the Exchequer, we will track you down and bring you to court."
HMRC confirmed confiscation proceedings are already underway to ensure the criminals do not profit from their crimes.
£300bn of liabilities
View from the front row
Transfer from occupational scheme
Appointed by FCA and PSR boards