Three men who were part of a gang who stole and laundered £17 million in a ‘missing trader’ VAT fraud have been jailed for a total of six years today. It follows the sentencing of six other gang members last December.
One of the gang members Diljan Saggar, also known as Jon Soni, is from Berkshire and was jailed for two years and three months for money laundering.
Criminal investigators from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) smashed the multi million pound fraud which involved manipulating the VAT system by pretending to import and export mobile phone products. However, evidence showed the goods never actually existed and the paperwork used to demonstrate trading was generated by a sophisticated computer program devised specifically for these illegal purposes.
During the investigation officers identified and stopped fraudulent VAT claims already made to HMRC worth £5m and found data on CD Roms recovered during house searches showing the gang intended to steal an additional £300m.
Gary Lampon, Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation for HMRC said:
“There are real victims behind ‘missing trader’ fraud. The proceeds from this type of fraud are funding serious organised crime in the UK We all end up paying extra taxes to compensate for the money these criminals steal and with the economic challenges being faced by everyone our focus remains relentless in bringing these conspirators to justice and to reclaim their criminal profits.”
The gang used the proceeds of their crime to purchase high value items in cash including:
- Several UK properties worth over £1m each
- Performance cars including a Rolls Royce Phantom for £250,000 and a Ferrari for £165,000
- A property in Spain valued at over £1million
The HMRC operation involved investigations in China, Taiwan, India, Italy, Denmark, Germany and Belgium. HMRC investigators worked with overseas officials to follow the trail of money that had been illegally diverted out of the UK in a bid to avoid detection.
Over £8m assets have so far been restrained and confiscation proceedings are underway.
1. Reporting restrictions have been in place throughout this trial at Southwark Crown Court. They have been lifted today, 31 January 2011 on sentencing. Details of the defendants sentenced previously on 2 December and 10 December 2010, and their roles, are available athttp://nds.coi.gov.uk/content/detail.aspx?NewsAreaId=2&ReleaseID=416867&SubjectId=5 andhttp://nds.coi.gov.uk/content/detail.aspx?NewsAreaId=2&ReleaseID=417006&SubjectId=12
Photographs of all defendants sentenced are available on request
A further trial is set to take place later this year, subject to full reporting restrictions, for a further seven defendants.
2. Details of the defendants sentenced today, Monday, 31 January 2011 include:
· 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.
Issued by HM Revenue & Customs Press Office
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