A Manchester taxi driver has been jailed for laundering almost £2 million of criminal profits in one month after HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigators found cash stashed under his bed.
Taxi driver Waqas Ilyas, 35, who admitted money laundering, was caught with £248,880 in his Skoda car in April 2015. A further £36,435 was found under a bed during searches of his home.
His partner Nazia Ghafar, 31, who also admitted guilt, was found to have a ‘ledger book’ that listed transactions totalling more than £1.7 million over a one month period.
The pair initially claimed the cash was linked to an informal ‘Hawala’ banking arrangement. But, facing trial, they both backed down and admitted the offences, making no challenge to the seizure of all the money.
Richard Wentel, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:
“This couple realised their weak explanations would not stand up in court and finally admitted their crimes. HMRC will not tolerate this illegal economy. If there is no legitimate reason for bundles of cash like this we will seize it – explain it or lose it.
“Crime doesn’t pay and we will always target money laundering. I would urge anyone who has information about this type of activity or witnesses suspicious large cash transactions to call the 24-hour Hotline on 0800 59 5000.”
Ilyas was sentenced to four years jail and Ghafar to two years jail suspended for 18 months on Friday at Manchester Crown Court.
Notes for editors
1.The pair were charged with money laundering under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) 2002 relating to the sum of cash found in the car, under the bed at their home address and additional £1.7 million transactions listed in the book.
2.Waqas Ilyas, dob 15/02/81, a taxi driver, of Melville Road, Stretford, Manchester, pleaded guilty to the money laundering on 27 September 2016. He was jailed for four years at Manchester Crown Court on 7 October 2016.
3.Nazia Ghafar, dob 31/08/85, a self-employed saleswoman, of the same address, pleaded guilty to the money laundering on 27 September 2016. She was jailed for two years suspended for 18 months at Manchester Crown Court on 7 October 2016.
4.All the cash seized in this case by HMRC is subject to a future forfeiture hearing under POCA following this sentence.
5.Hawala or Hewala banking is an informal value transfer system primarily used in the Middle East, African and Indian subcontinents. It operates outside of, or parallel to, traditional banking.
6.Anyone with information regarding fraud is encouraged to contact the 24-hour Hotline on 0800 59 5000 or report it online via: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/reportingfraud/online.htm
7.Follow HMRC Press Office on Twitter @HMRCpressoffice
8.HMRC's Flickr channel: www.flickr.com/hmrcgovuk
Issued by HM Revenue and Customs Press Office
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.