Long jail sentence for VAT fraud
A COMPANY boss has received what is thought to be the longest jail term yet for VAT fraud after he led a 15-strong criminal gang in a £176million scam.
Ringleader Dilawar Ravjani, 34, of Dubai and formerly of Uxbridge Road, Stanmore, was jailed for 17 years after he was convicted of organising the complex mobile phone trading scam while he was a director of Future Communications (UK) Ltd, which traded from Commercial House in Honeypot Lane, Stanmore.
It involved the VAT-free import and export of mobile phones from EU countries.
The gang created false paperwork relating to the alleged importation, sale and export of phones, which were purported to have been sold on in the UK, with VAT added on, through a chain of companies known as buffers.
Invoices would then be issued in order to perpetrate the fraud, with the gang then claiming the phones had been exported back to EU countries.
A corrupt freight forwarding company provided the false paperwork for the alleged transport of the phones.
The exporter would thenclaim a VAT repayment based on the VAT alleged to have been paid on the purchase of the goods – although this was never paid in the first place.
Ravjani was convicted of conspiracy to cheat the public revenue and sentenced at Kingston Crown Court in June last year, however, the details of his case could not be revealed until the conclusion of five separate trials, all linked.
The others have been jailed for a combined total of more than 66 years, which included eight years for Rajesh Gathani, of Lime Tree Court, in Pinner, and 12 months for Ravjani’s sister, Roshan Hussain.
Gathani, 47, was a phone trader for the Ravjani companies based in the offices in Stanmore and admitted conspiracy to cheat the Public Revenue and was sentenced on June 20 last year, at the same court.
Hussain, 44, of Dubai and formerly of Parkside, in Dollis Hill, was convicted of attempting to pervert the course of justice and was sentenced on October 19 last year, at the same court to 12 months imprisonment.
Twelve other members of the group, from Watford, Berkshire, Bucks, Shropshire, Wiltshire, Staffs, Wakefield and Stoke on Trent, have convicted of their involvement and received sentences of between one year and 13 years.
Although the attempted fraud was in excess of £176million, the actual tax loss was £107million.
Chris Martin, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation said: “Fraud on this scale causes immense damage to the tax revenues of the UK and the European Union.
“This was a complex and well-organised fraud which made a huge profit for the gang at the expense of UK taxpayers, but the dedication and techniques used by HMRC officers in this investigation resulted in the successful prosecution and convictions of these criminals. We will now seek to identify and recover the proceeds of this crime.”