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Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Businessman jailed over gang's £17m VAT fraud


Shabir Anwar Ahmed, 52, from Glasgow, was sentenced to four years in prison after admitting conspiracy to steal taxpayers' money between February and December 2005. He was also disqualified from being a company director for four years for his part in the multi-million pound operation which centred around the mobile phone industry. Ahmed, who was sentenced at London's Southwark Crown Court on Monday, was part of a group that used sham companies to import goods from Europe, including mobile phone accessories, which were exempt from VAT at the point of entry. Once imported, the goods would be sold on a number of times along a "contrived supply chain" at VAT-inclusive prices without VAT being paid to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). The fraud involved exporting the goods back to Europe and claiming VAT from HMRC for the tax paid on the purchase of the items, making a multi- million pound profit. Three other men were jailed after also pleading guilty to the charge of conspiracy to cheat the public revenue following a five-year investigation by HMRC which uncovered the organised crime gang's activities. Nine men were previously jailed for a total of 21 years in December 2010 and January this year. A further defendant has been charged and is due to stand trial next year. Gary Lampon, assistant director of criminal investigation for HMRC, said: "This was a complex and lengthy investigation, over five years, to unravel this multi-million pound fraud by an organised crime gang. "They used the money to fund extravagant lifestyles at the expense of the British taxpayer. We are determined to pursue and bring to justice the criminals behind this type of fraud."


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