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Crime lords hit for record confiscation order

Two crime lords face having to sell two luxury Dubai tower blocks after being hit with a record court order to pay the taxman more than £92 million.

Syed Ahmed and Shakeel Ahmad were part of a 21-strong gang that stole more than £37 million in a complex VAT scam but now face a bill of more than double that.

The pair, who are currently serving seven-year jail terms, have been given two months to meet the confiscation order or face having an extra ten years put on their sentence.

The massive bill, a record for HM Revenue and Customs, is based on a series of assets bought and owned by the gang, including luxury houses in London, high performance cars, and the construction of the two blocks of flats in Dubai which are now worth £80 million.

Assets also include a luxury flat in Knightsbridge worth £4.5 million, a £2m house in Harrow, a £1.5m house in Buckinghamshire and a riverside flat in Battersea worth £500,000

There are also high performance cars including a Ferrari 360 Modena convertible and a Mercedes 500CL.

Announcing a confiscation order of £92.3 million at Leicester Crown Court yesterday, His Honour Lord Justice Richard Flaux told the pair: “You are both complete liars and devious. You are adept at using others in an attempt to make your activities legitimate, creating a smokescreen to hide the value of your assets and conceal this from HMRC.”

Ahmed, of Buckinghamshire and Ahmad, of Middlesex, were part of a “missing trader” fraud that first began being investigated in April 2002.

It involved the dishonest manipulation of the VAT system through the import and export of computer processing units (CPUs).

The conspiracy involved the import of CPUs mainly from Ireland VAT free. The goods would then be sold on more cheaply, but with VAT added, through a chain of companies each involved in the plot and sham invoices would be issued. Once the goods had been sold on a number of times they would be exported back to the EU. The exporter would then claim a VAT credit from HMRC for the VAT paid on the purchase of the goods.

The final defendant of the 21 strong crime gang was sentenced in May and ended one of the most complex investigations undertaken by HMRC which included seven trials and retrials. In total the gang were jailed for 74 years.

Richard Meadows, assistant director of criminal investigation for HMRC, said: “This is the largest ever confiscation order secured by Revenue & Customs at the end of one of our most complicated investigations.

“The gang stole £37.5 million in a VAT tax fraud using the cash to invest in luxury property in the UK and abroad.

“We are determined to bring to justice the criminals behind this type of fraud and take away the proceeds of their crime.”

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