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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 October 2006, 12:13 GMT 13:13 UK
Computer chip boss's 18m pay-out
Money
Mr Creaven is to pay 18m to criminal assets agencies
A computer chip billionaire has agreed to pay 18m to the UK's Assets Recovery Agency and the Republic of Ireland's Criminal Assets Bureau.

Dylan Creaven also agreed to hand over his luxury villa and four racehorses.

The agencies, which recover illegally earned money, called it their "largest result so far".

Mr Creaven, 32, who lives in London but is from Ennis, County Clare, was acquitted of VAT fraud at Southwark Crown Court in 2005.

In a subsequent investigation by the recovery agencies, his assets were frozen.

About 12m will be handed over to the ARA and the remainder will go to the CAB in the Republic of Ireland, by 12 October.

Acquittal

In a statement, the ARA said the agreement was reached after a mediation process.

Mr Creaven had agreed to hand over a total of 18m as well as his luxury villa in Marbella and four racehorses, one of which won the 2005 Galway Hurdle.

In 2005, Mr Creaven stood trial for VAT fraud following an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs into allegations that he played a principal part in an international missing trader VAT fraud through his computer chip business in the Republic of Ireland.

He was acquitted but the ARA and CAB subsequently investigated him and obtained a freezing order on his assets.

Jane Earl, ARA director said it was the largest result so far.

"It demonstrates the power of civil recovery legislation in taking away the fruits of unlawful activity," she said.

"This case means that a proportion of the money stolen from the taxpayer through VAT fraud will be returned to the public purse, and it represents a significant achievement in the fight against VAT fraud which is not a victimless crime."

Carousel fraud

VAT fraud - known in the official jargon as Missing Trader Intra Community (MTIC) Fraud - is the single biggest threat to the taxation system of the European Union.

It has already cost the UK government at least 8.5bn since 2001.

It typically involves the repeated import and export of small but valuable goods, such as mobile phones and computer chips, between EU countries, hence its other common name of carousel fraud.

The fraud happens when the goods are legitimately imported free of VAT and are then sold with VAT added.

The individuals then take the tax they have collected instead of handing it over to HM Revenue & Customs.

Successful prosecutions have been hard to achieve.

But since the start of the year HMRC has put in place a number of new plans to stop the fraudsters.

This has included diverting hundreds of staff to scrutinise new applications for VAT registration as well as claims for VAT refunds when goods are exported to the EU.




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
BBC Newsline's Vincent Kearney reports on the pay-out



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