Two crime lords behind Britain’s biggest tax fraud have been jailed for an additional 10 years each after failing to pay back £184.6 million.
Syed Ahmed, 37, and Shakeel Ahmad, 38, were part of a 21-strong gang who brought luxury houses and sports cars with the proceeds of a £37.5 million pound VAT sting.
They were sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment in 2007 for their part in the “missing trader” VAT con, in which they cheated the system through the import and export of computer parts.
A judge ordered them to re-pay crime profits of £92.3 million each by September but the pair missed the deadline and on Thursday, they were told they must serve an additional ten years behind bars, HM Revenue and Customs said.
The £184.6 million is the largest ever confiscation order issued by the UK courts. It was made in July.
Richard Meadows, assistant director of criminal investigations for HMRC, said:
“This will send the strongest message yet to criminals that they cannot hide, even in prison, from our actions to reclaim their criminal profits.
“We are determined that this money will be restored to the nation’s finances in what is the largest confiscation order ever secured in the UK.
“Their prison sentences now total 34 years and they will still have to re-pay the outstanding confiscation order.”
Ahmad, from Middlesex, and Ahmed, from Slough, Berkshire led the complex VAT scam over a number of years.
They used the money to fund a lavish lifestyle, buying multi-million pound properties in and around London, alongside flashy cars including a Ferrari.
The confiscation order was based on assets bought and owned by the mob, including two blocks of flats in Dubai worth £80million called the Royal Oceanic Tower and the Yacht Bay Tower.
They also owned a £4.5million luxury apartment in Knightsbridge, West London, a £2million Harrow home, a £1.5million place in Iver Heath, Bucks, and a £500,000 riverside flat in Battersea, South London.
The crooked gang owned high-powered cars, including a Ferrari 360 Modena convertible and a Mercedes 500CL.
Ahmed and Ahmad were behind MST Associates (UK) Ltd, in Uxbridge, West London, and ran a “missing trader” VAT fraud.
The firm imported computer processing units from Europe – mostly Ireland – VAT free.
They would then be sold on more cheaply, but with VAT added, through a chain of companies 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 Revenue and Customs for the tax paid on the purchase of the goods.