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Stockport man jailed for VAT export fraud

Press release   •   Aug 21, 2013 09:30 BST

A Stockport man who committed an £800,000 VAT repayment fraud by submitting over 350 false invoices linked to fictitious exports to Pakistan was jailed in absence today (Tuesday) at Manchester Crown Court.

Mohammad Tanwir Khan, 58, of Bluestone Drive, Heaton Moor, had his business records scrutinised by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigators after anomalies with invoices for his import / export company were discovered during a VAT inspection in 2010.

Sandra Smith, Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation, HMRC, said:

“HMRC officers identified suspicious trading by Khan’s company, Spearpoint Limited, when his paperwork did not match the true level of exports. During interviews he couldn’t justify or prove his business claims. He had been living off stolen VAT repayments for a number of years, using faked paperwork to fraudulently reclaim on average over £100,000 per year.

“Tax fraud and attempts to launder the proceeds of crime are treated extremely seriously by HMRC, and we will relentlessly pursue any individuals or crime gangs believed to be involved.”

Khan was charged with VAT fraud of over £817,000. In Manchester Crown Court seven years of fake invoicing was provided as evidence – including 389 false invoices submitted to HMRC between 2006 and 2011. HMRC investigators discovered over 1,700 suspect documents on Khan’s computer, plus hundreds of blank invoices in his home office and garage in readiness for further fraud attempts.

Khan was the sole director of Spearpoint Limited, which claimed to regularly supply mechanical parts to clients, including the Pakistan Navy. He sourced equipment from the UK and Europe and then exported them to clients in Pakistan. To justify the VAT repayments he falsified freight invoices from several defunct, bogus and genuine suppliers.

Some invoices were crudely amended with correcting fluid while others were photocopied or produced on home computer templates. Most of the consignments did not exist or were for much smaller parts. He even altered and increased the weight of consignments on freight paperwork to give the impression of much larger consignments.

HMRC officers searched Khan’s home and arrested him in May 2011. A detailed investigation followed and it became clear that he was vastly overstating the scale and cost of his company’s trading.

Khan now faces a confiscation hearing over his criminal profits.

Notes for editors

1.  Mohammad Tanwir Khan (also known as Muhammad Tanwir Akthar Khan), DOB 13/01/55, of Bluestone Drive, Heaton Moor, Stockport, Greater Manchester, was the sole director of Spearpoint Ltd, registered at the same address. He was charged with being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of VAT contrary to s72(2) of the VAT Act 1994.

2.  Khan was found guilty on 3 May 2013 and was due to be sentenced at Manchester Crown Court on 17 June 2013, but failed to attend. The court issued a bench warrant for his immediate arrest and he was added to HMRC’s “most wanted” list of tax criminals on 9 August. He was sentenced to three and a half years in jail today (Tuesday 20 August) at Manchester Crown Court.

3.  Anyone with information on Khan’s whereabouts can call HMRC’s Customs, Excise and VAT fraud reporting hotline on 0800 595 000.

4.  Anyone with information about suspected tax fraud can call the Tax Evasion Hotline on 0800 788 887.

5.  A photograph is available on HMRC’s Flickr channel

6.  Follow us 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.