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We were arrested but have done nothing wrong
6:00am Friday 13th December 2013 in News
A FORMER racecourse owner has denied he is involved in a £2.4million VAT fraud.
John Holmes, 63, and his partner Jill Turner, 50, were arrested at their home near Braintree by HM Revenue and Customs investigators on Monday.
They were questioned in relation to fraud by false representation, cheating the public revenue and money laundering.
Mr Holmes, who used to own Great Leighs racecourse, said: “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 or future.”
A second man, aged 64, was also arrested at his home in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, in connection with the investigation.
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.
Two business properties were searched, one is believed to be Great Leighs racecourse.
Mr Holmes opened Great Leighs – Britain’s first new racecourse in 80 years – in 2008.
However, its main creditors, the Royal Bank of Scotland, called in administrators in January 2009 and it has not hosted a race since.
An application to join the 2014 fixture list was rejected by the British Horseracing Authority in June this year.
Mr Holmes said: “We can understand everyone wants to know what’s going on at Great Leighs. There have been significant positive moves regarding the racecourse since the British Horseracing Authority refused the licence earlier this year.
“Me and others have endured some very tough non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements regarding the sale of the racecourse.
“I will be seeking release from the various confidentiality agreements, which I have been bound by since the administration of the racecourse four years ago.”
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