The 15th member of a gang involved in a £250 million VAT fraud using the supposed import and export of mobile phones, has been jailed today for nine years. Multi-millionaire Nasir Khan’s assets of £15million have also been restrained for his part in one of the UK’s largest ever ‘missing trader’ frauds.
Fourteen other career criminals were jailed for almost 90 years for their part in the conspiracy in five previous trials. Reporting restrictions on all six trials have now been lifted following the conviction of Khan who, using the alias Nasa Khan, made donations of £34,000 to Crimestoppers in 2008.
The ten year investigation by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), codenamed Operation Euripus, revealed an intricate spider’s web of conspiracy as officers painstakingly unravelled the criminal network.
Chris Martin, Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation for HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) said:
“The scale of this operation was unprecedented when we carried out the initial raids in 2003. We had 350 officers visiting around 100 premises across the UK and Spain which led to the arrest of 42 people.
”VAT fraud is a serious crime which diverts vital income from the UK’s public services into the pockets of career criminals to fund their lavish and luxurious lifestyles. There are clear associations between this type of organised crime and violence, shootings, kidnap, extortion and drug trafficking. We will do everything in our power to put a stop to these sustained and determined criminal attacks against the taxpayer.”
He added: “This sends a clear signal to anyone involved or considering becoming involved in VAT fraud that the crime is serious and so are the penalties.”
The Court heard that on 2 July 2003, following a lengthy and painstaking investigation, HMRC officers carried out a series of coordinated arrests across the UK. The operation resulted in the seizure of over half a million documents and 130 computer hard drives.
Analysis of numerous documents and computers seized showed transaction chains, contacts between the defendants and how the organisation was carrying out fraudulent deals. Offshore bank accounts were identified showing monies being transferred from the UK and EU into accounts in Hong Kong, Pakistan and Dubai. The fraud was carried out over a two year period from June 2001 to July 2003.
On sentencing in this sixth trial His Honour Judge Loraine-Smith commented: “The level of profits were too great for you to resist. You had tried to paint yourself as a generous provider to charities and as a role model – in truth, you were nothing of the kind. You were close to the heart of the fraud and benefited greatly from it.”