Officers from the National Crime Agency (NCA) have searched two properties – one in Lytham St. Anne’s and another in Loughborough – making arrests and seizing cars, jewellery, watches and digital devices.
Three people, including a husband and wife, have been arrested in the NCA’s investigation into a multi-million-pound international PPE fraud.
A man in his 50s is suspected of setting up a UK company solely for running a fraudulent scheme that would allow him to profit from Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) shortages during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. His wife is suspected of helping to launder the proceeds. The third person arrested, a 39-year-old man, is suspected of aiding the scheme.
Investigators believe the company brokered sale agreements to supply nitrile gloves to companies in the USA and Germany worth over $35 million. An upfront fee was paid to the UK company to cover initial costs and secure the contracts, but paid into a holding account being managed by a third party.
The holding account provided assurances that funds paid in would only be released upon conditions of the contract being met. However, it is alleged the couple were able to access the initial sums paid without ever satisfying the sale terms. The third person arrested is suspected of aiding the scheme. Together they may have defrauded the companies by almost £1.9 million pounds ($2.35 million).
NCA Branch Commander Mick Pope said, ‘During the pandemic, both individuals and businesses were impacted by criminal opportunists. The NCA prioritised and tackled a range of serious organised crime threats, including fraud. False business agreements that turn out to be fraud, damage the reputation of the UK and hurt our economy. We continue to treat this as a priority area.’