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R v PK - Southwark Crown Court
How the Sunday Times chose to report this case:
Gang members pose with four jeeps bought using fraudulently claimed cash (The Sunday Times)
The fraudsters also photographed each other posing on the gleaming bonnets of their top-of-the range vehicles.
In another image they are seen giving the thumbs-up shortly before making a parachute jump.
Rosina Cottage, prosecuting for HMRC, said: “They were a group of close friends and family members who used their contacts within the building trade to identify opportunities for fraud.”
When sentencing the gang on Friday afternoon, Judge Christopher Hardy raised concerns about the security of HMRC’s self-assessment system. “Trust has become a very risky and unwise basis in this day and age with which to disperse millions of pounds of public money,” he said.
Addressing the defendants, the judge said: “You came to this country either illegally from the start or remained here illegally. To you it must have seemed as if the streets of London were paved with gold.”
Panchak, who was said in court to be “a strong character and the ringleader of the conspiracy”, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to cheat the public revenue and possession of false documents. He was sentenced to six years and one month.
The remaining 10 members of the gang were jailed for a total of 35 years.
Yuriy Brovarsky, the gang’s 26-year-old book-keeper, had opened at least 40 bank accounts. He was jailed for five years.
Vitalijuis Kostrominas, a 12th member of the group, is still on the run after jumping out of a fourth-floor window during last year’s raids.