An accountant from Harrow has been jailed for his involvement in a £400,000 Gift Aid and VAT fraud after an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
Abu Talib Ghadiri, 35 and his brother Mohsin Raza, 33, were found guilty of running a Gift Aid fraud in respect of two charities - the Fatimiyya Trust and The Light that falsely claimed to promote education, development of medical centres and help victims of natural disasters in Pakistan.
They submitted false repayment claims of £340,000 to HMRC, listing donations from deceased taxpayers – sometimes months after their deaths and used the details of ineligible taxpayers on the forms to claim the Gift Aid repayments.
Martin Brown, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:
“As an accountant, Ghadiri would have known the seriousness of committing Gift Aid and VAT fraud, but he carried on regardless and submitted false paperwork to substantiate his claims. These individuals stole money that should have been spent on vital public services, not used to line their own pockets, but they are now paying the price.”
In addition, Ghadiri, submitted false VAT invoices worth £47,000, linked to seven bogus companies. He claimed that the companies had been set up by his estranged ex-girlfriend and he was not involved despite his home address being the registered address for the companies and his National Insurance number being connected to their accounts.
Ghadiri’s former girlfriend set the record straight, telling the court that Ghadiri was in control of the companies and was simply using her details to avoid getting caught.
HMRC began the investigation after checks by a VAT compliance officer found discrepancies in the VAT repayment claims. Investigators uncovered the evidence that proved Ghadiri and Raza were also committing Gift Aid fraud and in a separate fraud, Salih Ozbay, 38, an associate of Ghadiri and company secretary of Smart Price Builders Ltd, had submitted a false VAT repayment claim to HMRC for £69,442.
The men were arrested in 2014 by HMRC officers and found guilty on 12 April 2016 after a trial at Harrow Crown Court. They were all jailed today (Friday 20 May 2016) at the same court.
Addressing Ghadiri, His Honour Judge Arran said:
"Your evidence was a series of lies, displaying a meanness and cowardice in blaming others. Taking advantage of a dying person was particularly disgraceful. This sentence reflects your sheer dishonesty and lack of remorse.”
Notes for editors
1. Defendants details:
- Abu Talib Ghadiri (DOB 12/05/1981), of Preston Waye, Harrow, Middlesex, HA3, was sentenced to six years in prison at Harrow Crown Court on Friday 20 May 2016.
- Mohsin Raza (DOB 01/11/1982), of Preston Waye Harrow, Middlesex, HA3, was sentenced to four years in prison at Harrow Crown Court on Friday 20 May 2016.
- Salih Ozbay (DOB 27/08/1977), of no fixed abode was arrested by HMRC on suspicion of VAT fraud linked to Smart Price Builders Ltd. He was found guilty on 12 April 2016 and sentenced to 18 months in prison at Harrow Crown Court on Friday 20 May 2016.
2. Ghadiri submitted false Gift Aid repayments claims for the Fatimiyya Trust of almost £140,780 - £58,524 of this was paid – and with co-trustee and his brother Mohsin Raza claimed £199,788 for The Light of which £116,369.68 was repaid.
3. Anyone with information about people or businesses involved in tax or Gift Aid fraud can contact our Hotline on 0800 59 5000 or report it online at: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/reportingfraud/online.htm
4. Follow HMRC’s Press Office on Twitter @HMRCpressoffice
5. HMRC's Flickr channel www.flickr.com/hmrc.gov.uk
Issued by HM Revenue & Customs Press Office
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is the UK’s tax authority.
HMRC is responsible for making sure that the money is available to fund the UK’s public services and for helping families and individuals with targeted financial support.