22/05/2002

Five released on police bail after fraud swoop

Police have released five men on police bail after a major fraud swoop on premises throughout Northern Ireland yesterday.

The Organised Crime task Force unit smashed a multi-million pound fraud ring centred on Northern Ireland's construction industry on Tuesday.

Four people were arrested during searches at a dozen premises in Belfast, Dungiven, Rostrevor and Downpatrick with another man arrested in a follow-up operation.

However all five were released on police bail today.

The tax scam, believed to have been masterminded in Northern Ireland, is said to have cost the Exchequer £10 million.

More arrests are expected as officers continue to probe allegations of the criminal misuse of industry tax certificates involving up to 20 firms in Northern Ireland.

The operation, mounted jointly by detectives and the Inland Revenue, followed a huge investigation spanning months.

Northern Ireland Security Minister and Chair of the Organised Crime Task Force, Jane Kennedy has praised the success of the operation.

“The continued professionalism and dedication of all agencies has resulted in this co-ordinated strike,” she said. “This should serve as a strong deterrent to those contemplating this type of criminality.”

The police operation got under way as a report claimed today that fraud in the workplace was costing Northern Ireland businesses millions of pounds.

The study by accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers revealed almost 40% of major firms fell victim to economic crime over the past two years, with the majority of incidents attributed to “inside jobs.”

(AMcE)

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