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Bradford man part of £176m VAT scam
9:50am Thursday 12th July 2012 in News
A Bradford man has been sentenced for laundering more than £100,000 as part of a £176 million mobile phone VAT fraud.
Ahmar Pervez Bhatti, 36, of Park Drive, Bradford, admitted laundering £116,000 through his bank account and was sentenced at Kingston Crown Court to 12 months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, and ordered to carry out 180 hours of unpaid community work.
A 15-strong criminal gang was involved in the VAT fraud through complex mobile phone trading scams.
Ringleader Dilawar Ravjani, 34, of Stanmore, Middlesex, was jailed for 17 years – the longest sentence ever given to an individual in the UK for such a fraud.
The gang claimed to have sold four million mobile phones worth £1.7 billion, but in many cases the phones did not exist and many had not been launched in the UK.
In an attempt to make the trade appear legitimate, more than 5,700 fake business transactions were created in order to claim large sums of VAT.
Revenue and Customs (HMRC) officers started an investigation in May 2006 and made the first arrests within three weeks, preventing the attempted £176 million fraud. HMRC also prevented the payment of fraudulent VAT repayment claims totalling £109 million submitted by companies linked to the scam.
Around a quarter – £30,000 – of the money laundered by Bhatti was paid to two of Ravjani’s companies and the rest was used as living expenses.