Northern Ireland

14 arrested for money laundering

Image caption HMRC said the frauds amounted to millions of pounds of public money

Thirteen people have been arrested for suspected money laundering in NI.

A fourteenth person was arrested in Stoke Newington, London.

The 13 men and one woman were arrested following searches by HM Revenue & Customs investigating suspected £15m money laundering, income tax and VAT fraud linked to the construction industry.

On Tuesday, 31 businesses and homes were searched in Belfast and Counties Armagh, Antrim and Londonderry.

Operation Concentric was the largest operation carried out by HMRC officers, supported by PSNI officers, in Northern Ireland.

In co-ordinated activity in Stoke Newington, a man was arrested after two businesses and one private address were raided by HMRC accompanied by officers from the Metropolitan Police.

An organised crime gang is believed to have created a chain of companies, claiming to sub-contract labour for construction projects, with the intent of disappearing before any tax was paid.

Business records, cash and computer equipment were seized during the operation.

"This investigation is targeting a suspected organised crime gang involved in sophisticated multi-million pound income tax and VAT frauds in the construction industry, and the associated laundering of the criminal profits," said John Whiting, assistant director of criminal investigation with HMRC.

"The frauds are believed to have resulted in the theft of millions of pounds of public revenue."

In Belfast, nine men were arrested aged between 22 and 57. A 48-year-old woman was also arrested.

A 46-year-old man was arrested in County Armagh, a 54-year-old man in County Londonderry and a 35-year-old man in County Antrim.

The man arrested in London was 37.

All are currently being interviewed by HMRC officers and investigations are continuing.

More on this story