A financial adviser who assisted a client in reclaiming nearly £900,000 in VAT and then gambled some of the proceeds away in a London casino has been jailed for five years and banned from going into casinos and gaming online for three years after his release.
Mohammad Izhar Ul Haq, 59, committed the fraud by forging a bank guarantee from the Bank of America, meaning his client could claim a VAT repayment from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). Haq later lied to his solicitors about his whereabouts to avoid being jailed, claiming he was in Pakistan when in fact he was gambling in London casinos.
In an attempt to mitigate his involvement in the fraud, Haq lied to HMRC investigators claiming that his fee for the service was £20,000. In fact he received over £200,000, of which £130,000 was paid into gambling accounts he held at London casinos.
Martin Brown, Assistant Director of HM Revenue & Customs Criminal Investigation said:
“Haq presented himself as a trustworthy financial adviser, but instead he showed that he was an ingenious document forger. HMRC will not tolerate attacks on public funds. We will investigate anyone found attempting tax fraud and protect taxpayers’ money from criminals like Haq.”
In sentencing Haq His Honour Judge White said:
“Your defence was a sham. The public would expect and deserve a severe sentence in this case.”
Haq was charged with cheating the Public Revenue on 31 May 2011. Shortly before a court appearance in February 2012, HMRC was advised that Haq had fallen ill while in Pakistan and was unable to return to the UK for trial. Medical certificates were submitted to the court which seemingly proved Haq was in poor health, but HMRC later sourced CCTV footage of the defendant attending a casino at the same time that he was supposedly ill in Pakistan.
Haq was subsequently arrested and remanded in custody pending his trial in September 2012. He was found guilty of the offences at Harrow Crown Court and sentenced there today (19 October 2012).
Confiscation action to recover the proceeds of Haq’s crimes will be kept under review.
Notes to Editors
1. Mohammad Izhar Ul Haq, (DOB 20/12/1953) of 63 Cleveley Crescent, Ealing, London, W5 1DZ was found guilty of obtaining fraudulent VAT repayments totalling £898,719.97 and sentenced five years imprisonment at Harrow Crown Court on 19 October 2012. He was also given a Serious Crime Prevention Order that bans him from going into casinos and gaming online for three years after his release.
2. The fraudulent VAT repayment claim was for £898,719.97.
3. Anyone with information about people committing VAT fraud is encouraged to call the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
4. Images are available on HMRC’s flickr channel www.flickr.com/hmrcgovuk
5. Follow HMRC on Twitter @HMRCgovuk
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.