A criminal organisation led by a high-performance cars dealer has been dismantled from top to bottom after a police investigation spanning six years, officers revealed today.
Investigators are now aiming to seize millions of pounds of assets they claim Khalid Malik acquired through his drugs empire.
Father-of-four Malik is languishing in jail after being sentenced to 25 years imprisonment in December 2005 for plotting to flood the Bradford district with 130kg of heroin with a street value of £7 million.
But his conviction was just the start of a meticulous police inquiry to unravel Malik’s criminal financial dealings, aided by his corrupt lieutenants and dishonest professionals such as solicitors.
Last month Paul Morgan, of Leeds, was jailed for five and a half years for money laundering and perverting the course of justice.
He was the final person to be imprisoned following Operation Numerator, run by the national Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA).
The operation, run from West Yorkshire, resulted in 16 convictions with jail sentences totalling more than 150 years and the seizure of almost 300kgs of heroin. Financial investigators are now preparing for confiscation hearings when they hope to recover several million pounds worth of assets, including property, vehicles and money in bank accounts.
They say the success of Operation Numerator sends out a message to others tempted to try and cream off substantial sums through criminality.
SOCA deputy director Ian Cruxton said: “After we had dealt with Malik and his criminal associates for supplying huge amounts of heroin, we launched an investigation to identify the people responsible for laundering his dirty cash.
“Malik thought he was being clever by using family members and corrupt businesspeople to help him invest the money in property here and overseas.
“Our officers were one step ahead of him though and now we’ve completely dismantled his organised crime gang.
“Everyone involved in his criminal activities, including his wife, her sister, a solicitor, mortgage adviser, property developer and a financial adviser, are all behind bars. They have paid for their greed with their livelihoods and freedom.
“Our warning to other business people in Bradford is simple – if you offer your services to criminals you can expect SOCA to come after you.”
One investigator said: “This was the complete dismantling of a criminal organisation from top to bottom, from the chief player downwards.”
Among those who were part of Malik’s criminal web was award-winning Bradford solicitor Shadab Khan, 38, a senior partner with the Carlisle Road-based legal firm Solicitors Direct.
Khan, of Staveley Road, Nab Wood, was jailed for four years last October for laundering Malik’s criminal money through the conveyancing of properties. The investigator said: “He accepted third party and large cash payments into the business accounts, enabling property to be purchased, when he had a professional responsibility to look out for people who are money laundering.”
Members of Malik’s family were involved in his criminality. His wife, Balkees Begum, 39, “very much the business partner” of her husband, was jailed for ten years for money laundering and mortgage fraud.
Her sister, Shanaz Afzal, 30, of Ridge Close, Guiseley, was accused of money laundering and received a four-year sentence.
Trusted lieutenants Davinder Singh, 39, of Ridings Croft, Bierley, and Mohammed Reyaz Khan, were given 15 and 14 year jail sentences respectively.
Mortgage adviser Tanveer Cheema, who allowed money to go through his accounts, was jailed for three years.
Investigators tracked a chain of properties they believe were linked to Malik. They included his luxury car business, Unique Car Care, run with his wife, in Leeds Road. Her sister Shanaz Afzal was an employee there. Other properties included a house in Toller Grove, bought by Balkees Begum in 2002, a house in St John’s Drive, Yeadon, lived in by the couple and a property in Ridge Close, Guiseley.
The SOCA investigator said: “Malik came out of prison in 2001, having been convicted as a simple street dealer. By 2003, he and his wife had bought houses worth £500,000.”
A number of conspirators had travelled to Bulgaria to find cheap land and property. Documents also suggested Malik had been in the process of buying a luxury apartment in The Palms in Dubai.
Malik’s “banker,” Stefan Osborne, who died a week before his trial was due to begin and allowed his accounts to be used to wash Malik’s money, paid for and owned a black Lamborghini, yet Malik had the keys and was seen driving it.