Five eco-friendly fraudsters caught by HM Revenue And Customs (HMRC) have been jailed for 43 years and ordered to repay £20 million of their ill-gotten gains.
The five – including a man of 80 – were caught because they tried to cheat wealthy investors looking for a tax break by selling them fake carbon emission reduction certificates.
The investors thought they were buying in good faith certificates which would help reduce their tax liability.
What they were actually doing was handing over more than £107 million to the scammers who used it to buy properties in the UK and Dubai and failed to declare anything to HMRC.
It was one of the biggest such frauds ever uncovered by HMRC and the five men – four from the UK and one living in Dubai – were sentenced to 43 years for the crime and ordered to pay £20 million to the taxman.
They were warned that if they failed to do so they could face another 39 years in jail. Customs officials believe they may have to cash in their pensions and sell other properties in Dubai and the UK to make the payment.
HMRC assistant director of the fraud investigation service, Martin Lynagh, said: “This was a carefully-planned and complex attack on the tax system and now the men have to pay up or spend even more time in prison, and still owe the money.
“Our actions don’t stop once someone is convicted, we will look to reclaim the stolen money, cash that should be funding vital public services in the UK.”