An Indian-born mastermind of a fake designer clothes scam, accused of trying to steal an estimated £97million through Value Added Tax (VAT) refund claims on bogus exports of textiles and cellphones with the help of a criminal gang, was sentenced on Thursday. to 20 years in prison for tax evasion in the United Kingdom.
Sock maker Arif Patel, 55, was found guilty last month of what Britain’s tax authorities described as one of the biggest “carousel” tax frauds on record in the country.
Mr Patel was found guilty of false accounting, conspiracy to cheat government revenue, resale of counterfeit clothes and money laundering after a 14-week trial at Chester Crown Court.
“Arif Patel lived a lavish lifestyle at the expense of the law-abiding majority. Tax crime is not victimless and fraudsters like this pair steal the money that funds the National Health Service and other vital public services we all rely on,” said Richard Las, director of the Fraud Investigation Service at the His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), which was part of a joint investigation with local Lancashire Police.
Mr Patel and his gang imported and sold counterfeit clothes which would have been worth at least £50million if they had been genuine and the proceeds were then used to buy property in Preston in the north of England and London via offshore bank accounts.
Another defendant, Mohamed Jaffar Ali, 58, from Dubai, who was also found guilty of conspiracy to deceive HMRC and money laundering, was also sentenced to 11 years in prison on Friday.
“Arif Patel and Mohamed Jaffar Ali were at the heart of one of the biggest carousel tax frauds this country has ever seen and the gravity of their crimes was recognized by today’s sentencing,” Eamonn O’ said. Neill, deputy director of the fraud investigation department. at HMRC.
The UK tax authorities said a total of 26 members of the criminal empire were convicted and sentenced in six trials between 2011 and 2023, resulting in prison sentences totaling 147 years and seven months. Over £78m of the gang’s assets have been blocked and the process of recovering these proceeds of crime is ongoing.
“Patel was convicted in his absence, having remained in Dubai throughout the trial,” said Andrew Fox, senior prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
“The CPS will now pursue forfeiture proceedings against the defendants, to prevent them from enjoying the benefits of their criminal enterprise,” he said.
HMRC said Mr Patel’s criminal enterprise relied on “dozens of lieutenants” across the UK, including professional facilitators. They were two chartered accountants from a Preston-based firm: Anil Hindocha, 69, from Preston and Yogesh Patel, 66, from Aylesbury.
Previously, Mr Hindocha was jailed for 12 years and 10 months in 2014 after being found guilty of false accounting, conspiracy to deceive the taxman and money laundering. Yogesh Patel was jailed for five years and seven months for the same offences.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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