Ex-Great Leighs racecourse owner denies VAT fraud

Chelmsford Weekly News: Ex-Great Leighs racecourse owner denies VAT fraud Ex-Great Leighs racecourse owner denies VAT fraud

A FORMER racecourse owner has “emphatically denied” allegations he and his partner were involved in a £2.4million VAT fraud linked to horse racing.

John Holmes, 63, who opened Great Leighs Racecourse in 2008, and Jill Turner, 50, were arrested at his home in Moulsham Hall Lane by HM Revenue and Customs criminal investigators on Monday **9**.

Both were questioned in relation to fraud by false representation, cheating the public revenue and money laundering.

A 64-year-old man was also arrested at his home in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire.

Mr Holmes said: ““It was a visit by the HM Revenue and Customs.

“We were questioned and released without charge a few hours later.

“We emphatically deny we have done anything wrong.

“We have never been involved in any racing paraphernalia, not in the past, present of future.”

Two business properties were also searched, one of which is believed to be Great Leighs racecourse.

The fraud allegations are said to be connected with the horse racing industry although customs officers have not released any more details about the investigation.

Computers and IT equipment are believed to have been seized and forensic accountants are said to be part of the inquiry.

Paul Barton, HM Revenue and Custom’s assistant director for criminal investigation, said: "Tackling tax fraud is a key priority and we will not hesitate to investigate those suspected of stealing public funds."

Great Leighs Racecourse has been out of action since 2009 and an application to join the 2014 fixture-list allocation was rejected by the British Horseracing Authority in June.

MC Racetracks now own the venue.

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