A £34million criminal empire run by a Solihull fraudster and his two Wolverhampton henchmen has been cracked by West Midlands Police.
Thomas Scragg, from Hockley Heath conned UK tax officials out of the huge sum of money.
He has been jailed for 17 years – one of the longest sentences in British criminal history for fraud – it can be revealed today.
Scragg was jailed following three separate fraud convictions against HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) – the latest, in March 2011, for stealing millions of pounds in employee PAYE tax following a joint investigation by West Midlands Police and HMRC.
The extent of Scragg’s racket had remained a secret until today as cases against his two henchmen – Carl and Anthony Johnson from Wolverhampton – progressed through court.
But the brothers’ convictions today for money laundering Scragg’s ill-gotten gains has now lifted reporting restrictions and the lid on the 56-year-old’s criminal empire.
Scragg used his business ‘Moya Payroll’ – which managed staff wages of construction industry companies – to steal over £26m in tax over a five year period between 2002 and 2007.
His co-defendant, Paul Phillips from Derbyshire, was jailed for nine years.
Detective Chief Inspector Shaun Edwards from West Midlands Police said: “This was fraud and money laundering on a massive scale; it deprived the public purse of millions of pounds and Scragg’s audacity is shown by the fact he continued the fraud in various guises even after he knew he was being investigated.
“A number of my officers have devoted the last five-and-a-half years to bringing these men to justice and I’m pleased that we can now tell the world about the extent of their crimes for the first time.
“Carl and Anthony Johnson flaunted their wealth for the local Wolverhampton community to see – which is what ultimately led to their downfall. It was the law-abiding citizens of the city who came to us demanding answers about how the Johnsons were increasing their wealth.
“They were once heard to joke ‘crime does pay’…they now have plenty of time behind bars to reconsider this opinion.
“I hope this sends out a very strong message that we will continue to work with other agencies to disrupt organised crime groups – no matter how long it takes – and that no-one should regard themselves as 'untouchable'.”
A further investigation by West Midlands Police uncovered a further £8m of stolen PAYE tax in a 10-month period from April 2007 to February 2008.
Birmingham Crown Court heard how Carl Johnson, 49 andn his brother, and Anthony, aged 51, lived extravagant lifestyles using money they received from Scragg in return for their “protection services”.
CRIMINALS LED A LAVISH LIFESTYLE>>>