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Monday, 28 July 2014

THE £14m LUXURY CAR SCAM

A CUMBRIAN crime ring carried out a large-scale VAT fraud involving imported luxury cars that was worth more than £14 million, a court has heard.

Prosecutors claim the cash was generated through the buying and selling of hundreds of vehicles and money laundering.

But despite the massive figures involved, one of the key players in the scam is only able to pay back just 32p of his ill-gotten gains.

The illegal operation, based in the Carlisle area, laundered money and used fake passports and insurance documents to dodge paying tax on expensive cars such as Porches, Mercedes, BMWs and Range Rovers.

One of the biggest legal actions of its kind ever pursued by Cumbrian prosecutors and police is now underway to seize the assets of those who allegedly benefited from the criminal activity. The staggering extent of the multi-million pound fraud emerged during that Proceeds of Crime hearing, which has revealed the financial connections of those involved to the total alleged.

Liverpool Crown Court heard yesterday that Noel Young, the man who led the operation, had a “criminal benefits” – meaning he was connected to an amount – of up to £14.1m of the cash involved.

The benefit figure is not what any of the defendants are alleged to have profited by but the amount of cash they are accused of having some part in handling.

They are not individual amounts but part of the £14 million-plus value of the fraud.

Another of the key players, Carl Mackinlay – who did much of Young’s bidding – was found to have been connected to more than £14.3m. Kevin Simpson, who also often bid on Young’s behalf and was sent to falsely register imported cars to evade the VAT due on them, benefited to the tune of £3.1m.

Mackinlay, however, only has recoverable assets of just 32p while Simpson’s were £2,385, the court agreed.

Judge David Aubrey QC ordered the forfeiture of their cash on Monday. If they do not pay up, Mackinlay will be jailed for a day and Simpson imprisoned for a week.

The application against Young, 32, began yesterday. Police financial investigator Detective Constable Gary Scott, under cross-examination from prosecutor Tim Evans, told the court there was evidence of 256 vehicles being involved in the fraud.

He said there was also understood to have been a number of caravans purchased.

It also emerged that although Esk Cottage – the home Young shared with his wife Nazim at Metal Bridge, north of Carlisle – was bought with cash from a bank account belonging to Nazim Young, the property was not registered in either of their names.

Details were also given about numerous “large and irregular” transactions from a number of bank and building society accounts in Noel Young’s name.Although there were substantial amounts involved, investigations could trace no evidence of Young being in receipt of benefits or having any legitimate income.

A previous court hearing heard that Young, currently serving a seven-year jail sentence for a 100mph crash that killed a father-of-three on the A7 outside Carlisle, channelled cash through various accounts to stop it being traced back to him. This money was used to buy in luxury cars from the continent by his associates.

Innocent people were asked to settle up the cash owed to Her Majesty’s Customs after having their identities stolen and being registered as the importer of the car. The cut-price cars – understood to have been stored all over the country including Longtown and the outskirts of Carlisle – were then sold on at huge prices.

In October 2006, Young was sentenced to 28 months in jail for each charge of money laundering and conspiracy to defraud HM Customs to begin after his existing sentence.

Simpson, of Brownrigg Drive, Carlisle, and Mackinlay, formerly of Chilton, County Durham, admitted conspiring to defraud HM Customs and Excise. Mackinlay also admitted laundering money on behalf of Young. Both were jailed for a year. Mackinlay was given two 12-month sentences to run concurrently.

Applications under the Proceeds of Crime Act are also to be made against two of Young’s relatives – Nazim Young and Marina Simpson – as part of the case.

The hearing continues.

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