Syed Ahmed of Buckinghamshire and Shakeel Ahmad of Middlesex must repay the sum within two months, and face an additional ten years to their prison sentences, as well as having to repay the money, if they do not comply. Both are currently serving seven year jail terms for major roles they played in a complex VAT fraud.
The two men were members of a 21-strong criminal tax fraud gang that dishonestly manipulated the VAT system through the import and export of computer processing units (CPUs). Using highly complex chains of VAT registered companies in the UK and abroad, the gang stole £37.5m which was used to build blocks of flats in Dubai and purchase luxury London houses and high performance cars.
Prosecuting, his Honour Lord Justice Richard Flaux said: “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.”
The gang defrauded HMRC by importing CPUs from Ireland VAT free, which were then sold on at a cheaper price, but with VAT added, through a chain of companies involved in the plot and with sham invoices issued. The goods were then exported back to the EU through “missing traders” at a VAT registered business, after being sold on a number of times. After exporting the CPUs the gang claimed back VAT credit for the VAT paid on the purchase of the goods.
The gang then divided the profits and laundered them in bank accounts in the UK and overseas. The account holders would then withdraw the bulk of the cash, for which they were paid a commission.
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. I believe it to be one of the largest confiscation orders in the UK to date.
“We are determined to bring to justice the criminals behind this type of fraud and take away the proceeds of their crime. We have worked very closely with the West Midlands Regional Asset Recovery Team (RART) and law enforcement agencies across the world to bring this case to a successful conclusion.”