Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Former police officer admits £300m VAT fraud

A former policeman and two other men have admitted conspiring to cheat HM Revenue & Customs [HMRC] out of £300m.

Nigel Cranswick, 47, from Danby Close, Kiveton, Sheffield, Brian Olive, 56, from Buttermere Close, Doncaster, and Darren Smyth, 42, of Beech Road, Maltby all appeared at Newcastle Crown Court.

The court heard that Cranswick set up fictitious technology company Ideas 2 Go with the aim of claiming back VAT.

The case has taken five years of investigation by HMRC.

Cranswick, a former officer with South Yorkshire Police, was director of the Sheffield-based company which claimed to trade in mobile phones and computer software, with the aim of generating paperwork from fake sales to claim back VAT.

The company claimed to have bought and sold at least £2bn worth of goods in just eight months.

Cranswick paid for a number of expensive items within weeks of starting the company, including portraits costing more than £2,000, teeth bleaching, and furniture exceeding £3,000, as well as renting a villa in Spain.

Paul Rooney, assistant director for criminal investigations at HMRC, said: "This was a sophisticated fraud designed to steal hundreds of millions of pounds of tax.

"HMRC investigators unravelled a complex web of fake business transactions fabricated to conceal the massive financial fraud."

Mr Cranswick's sister, Clare Reid, 44, of the same address as her brother, admitted two counts of false accounting.

Sentencing will take place next month.

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