A Middlesbrough man and a woman from Stockton are among 14 arrested as part of probe into a suspected £78m landfill tax fraud.
Around 180 officers from HM Revenue and Customs searched six commercial and eight residential properties in Middlesbrough, Hartlepool, Gateshead, Washington, Leeds and Hull early this morning.
A 42-year-old man from Middlesbrough and a 26-year-old woman from Stockton were arrested as officers searched a home in Middlesbrough.
Police were today seen outside waste management firm Niramax in Longhill Industrial Estate, Thomlinson Road, Hartlepool.
A police van was parked outside the firm’s building and officers were stood at the gate.
It is believed their presence is in connection with the investigation.
Niramax has been contacted by The Gazette for comment.
Also arrested were a 49-year-old man from Seaton Carew, men aged 35, 40, 49 and women aged 32 and 34 from Hartlepool.
Five men, aged between 23 and 43, were arrested at different addresses in North Yorkshire while 49-year-old man from Hull was also arrested.
Simon York, Fraud Investigation Service director at HMRC, said: “Today’s activities are the culmination of 18 months’ painstaking investigation into the suspected systematic abuse of the landfill tax system.
“We believe that over £78m revenue may be involved, money which could be used to fund some of the UK’s most vital public services.
“No one is above paying their fair and legal share of tax, as the rest of us do, and we are closing in on those who try to cheat the system. HMRC, working with our law enforcement partners, will do everything within our power to catch those involved in tax fraud of any kind, and will push for the strongest punishments through the court.
“Anyone with information about suspected landfill tax fraud or other types of fraud can call the Tax Evasion Hotline on 0800 788 887.”
The operation was supported by the Environment Agency and local police forces.
A Environment Agency spokesman said: “The Environment Agency is supporting HMRC in a major operation at locations across Yorkshire and the North East.
“We are working closely with our partner organisations to help stamp out landfill tax evasion.”
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