Further convictions in £17m missing trader fraud

Further convictions have been secured by HMRC against an organised crime gang who conspired to steal £17m of taxpayer’s money in a ‘missing trader’ VAT fraud.

Criminal investigators from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) investigated the multi million pound fraud, centred on the mobile phone industry, in an investigation beginning in 2006. VAT reclaims were made to take a further £5m from the taxpayer but these were stopped from being paid. Papers recovered during searches showed the gang were planning an additional £300m of VAT fraud from the public purse.

The gang used the proceeds to buy UK and Spanish properties worth over £1m each and performance cars including a Rolls Royce Phantom for £250,000 and a Ferrari for £165,000. Approximately £8 million of assets have been restrained and confiscation proceedings are underway to reclaim the proceeds of crime under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Background:

In its simplest form this type of fraud involves obtaining a VAT registration number in the UK for the purposes of purchasing VAT-free goods from another EU Member State, selling them at a VAT-inclusive price in the UK and then going missing or defaulting without paying the VAT due to HMRC.

This conspiracy involved the import of mobile phone accessories and electronic media including memory and SIM cards, from the EU. Once imported, the goods would be sold on a number of times along a contrived supply chain and then they would be exported back to the EU. The exporter would then claim a VAT credit from HMRC for the VAT paid on the purchase of the goods.

Those convicted were:

* Gurjit Singh, (DOB 15.04.64), of 157 Monmouth Drive, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, was sentenced to two years in prison. Singh laundered the criminal proceeds of the fraud.

* Shabir Anwar Ahmed, (DOB 25.12.58), of 90 Hamilton Avenue, Glasgow, Scotland, was sentenced to four years in prison and was disqualified from being a company director for four years. Ahmed was a director of Morganrise Ltd, set up as a sham business to assist in the fraud.

* Muhammad Al-Numairy Raza, (DOB 17.06.74), of 70 Hanworth Road, Feltham, Middlesex, was sentenced to two and a half years in prison and was disqualified from being a company director for four years. Raza was a director of K&M Supplies Ltd, set up as a sham business to assist in the fraud.

* Bharat Muriji Odedra, (DOB 14.07.76), 37 Manaton Crescent, Middlesex, was sentenced to two and a half years in prison and was disqualified from being a company director for four years. Odedra was a director of Synergy Services Ltd, set up as a sham business to assist in the fraud.

* Karnail Singh Samra, (DOB 08.01.52), of Pendower, Endwood Drive, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, was sentenced to 18 months for money laundering contrary to the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. He received an additional 12 months (to run consecutively) for 26 separate counts of Contempt of Court, by failing to declare and removing cash of £225,000, from the UK jurisdiction to India. This was in breach of a Proceeds of Crime Order placed on him at the time of his arrest in 2007. Samra laundered more than £800,000 of criminal proceeds through bank accounts in the UK, India and Spain.
He is the father of Harbinder Singh Samra, one of the principal fraudsters previously sentenced to five years and nine months in jail.

* Mandish Singh Hayre, (DOB 07.04.55), of 2 Marling Croft, Solihull, West Midlands, was sentenced to 15 months for money laundering contrary to the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. Hayre laundered more than £600,000 of criminal proceeds through bank accounts in the UK and abroad. He is the father of Ardip Singh Hayre, one of the principal fraudsters previously sentenced to two years and ten months in prison.

* Diljan Saggar, also known as Jon Soni, (DOB 14.11.64), of Tamberlane, Stoke Park Avenue, Farnham Royal, Slough, Berkshire, was sentenced to two years and three months on charges of conspiracy to cheat the public revenue. He was disqualified from being a company director for four years. Saggar was a director of The Working Group Ltd, the sole suppler of mobile phone products – which never actually existed. He used this company to create contrived trading chains to fraudulently claim VAT repayments from HMRC.

* Cameron Charles Thurston, (DOB 2.11.75), a dual South African/British national of Redhill, Surrey, was sentenced to a three year community order. He was disqualified from being a company director for four years. Thurston was a Director of Synergy Services Ltd, Harrow, North London, a company that acted as an importer and broker in the fraud.

* Harbinder Singh Samra, (DOB 10.10.70), a 40 year old man of Pendower, Endwood Drive, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, was sentenced to four and a half years in prison. He received an additional one year and three months (to run consecutively) for 113 separate counts of Contempt of Court, by failing to declare and spending hidden assets of £750,000. This was in breach of a Proceeds of Crime Order placed on him at the time of his arrest in 2006. He was disqualified from being a company director for five years. Samra was one of the principal players in the fraud and was shot four times during the conspiracy while getting into his Rolls Royce Phantom outside The Hardwick public house in Walsall, West Midlands. He was a Director of Goldfree Ltd of Birmingham, the exporter within this fraud. He used this company to defraud HMRC, and introduced Hayre, then 23 years old, to the criminal organisation, inviting him along to share the ‘profits’ of the fraud.

* Ardip Singh Hayre, (DOB 23.06.83), a 27 year old man of 55 Lovelace Avenue, Solihull, West Midlands, was sentenced to two years and ten months in prison. He was disqualified from being a company director for four years. Hayre was a principal player in the fraud. He was a Director of Goldfree Ltd of Birmingham, the exporter within this fraud. He used this company to defraud HMRC, alongside Samra.

* Terence Thomas Broad, (DOB 17.02.45), of 359 Bemersley Road, Brown Edge, Staffordshire, was sentenced to one year and four months in prison. He was disqualified from being a company director for four years. Broad, along with co-defendant Crowther ran the logistics and freight side of the organisation. They used their premises to convince HMRC that goods were being inspected by them, when in fact there were no goods at all.

* Russell Crowther, (DOB 27.09.62), of Betws Lodge, Tan-y-Gopa Road, Abergele, Conwy, North Wales, was sentenced to two years and three months in prison. He was disqualified from being a company director for four years. Crowther, along with co-defendant Broad ran the logistics and freight side of the organisation. They used their premises to convince HMRC that goods were being inspected by them, when in fact there were no goods at all.

* Syed Faraz Hussain, (DOB 29.12.81), of Seal Point, Comeraugh Close, Woking, Surrey, was sentenced to two years and ten months in prison. He was disqualified from being a company director for four years. Hussain was the guiding mind behind several other companies within this fraud.

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