The UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) has arrested three Brits over claims they ran a fraudulent company that brokered $35m (£29m) worth of PPE procurement deals at the height of Covid-19.
Investigators believe that one of the three individuals – a man in his 50s – set up a UK company with the sole purpose of running a fraudulent scheme to profit from PPE shortages at the start of the pandemic.
The man’s wife is accused of laundering proceeds from the fraudulent company, while a third 39-year-old man is suspected of aiding the scheme.
Investigators believe the trio brokered the sale of more than $35m worth of nitrile gloves to the US and Germany via the UK firm.
The three individuals are accused of using money paid into escrow accounts – that they had said would only be released on fulfilment of the contract – without actually fulfilling the deals.
Together the trio are accused of defrauding buyers out of £1.9m. All three individuals remain in custody and interviews are ongoing.
The arrest follow a a series of morning raids that saw the NCA seize watches, jewelry and a car from properties in Loughborough, Leicestershire and the Lancashire town of Lytham St Annes.
NCA branch commander Michael Pope said: ““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,” Pope said. “Work is underway with law enforcement partners in the US and Germany to further this investigation.”