Lancashire gang sentenced for £56m VAT fraud

Two Lancashire men, who have fled to Dubai, have been sentenced in their absence to a total of 34 years in jail for their part in a £56.5 million VAT and money-laundering fraud.

Adam Umerji, 33, and Addullah Yusaf Allad, 32, were originally charged in January 2009, but absconded before they stood trial.

Three others involved in the fraud who pleaded guilty prior to trial were jailed for a total of 15 years today at Liverpool Crown Court.

The gang operated a number of companies in the Preston area trading in mobile phones.

They submitted fraudulent VAT repayment claims to reclaim millions of pounds in VAT paid by them on the purchase of large quantities of stock.

They then transferred their criminal proceeds out of the UK to Dubai in an effort to conceal their illegal activities.

His Honour Judge Swift described the conspiracy in court today as “carefully and cleverly organised, in reality it was no more than a scam”.

He added that Allad and Umerji “were the main and controlling minds of the fraud” and “that the scale of offending goes far beyond normal sentencing guidelines for sentencing fraud cases.

HMRC investigations discovered that £37 million had been laundered through the network of companies operated by the gang and halted further payments in 2006.

The gang had submitted VAT repayment claims for over £56.5 million over a ten-month period.

Adam Umerji, also known as Shafiq Patel, 33 of St John’s Court, Broughton, Preston, was sentenced to 12 years in jail for the VAT fraud and five years for the money laundering.

He was also disqualified from being a director for ten years.

Abdullah Yusuf Allad, 32, of Black Bull Lane, Preston, was sentenced to 12 years in jail for the VAT fraud and five years for the money laundering.

Allad was also disqualified from being a director for ten years.

Umerji’s older brother Sajid Muhammed Patel, 34, from Ferndale, Fulwood, Preston, pleaded guilty on May 3 and was sentenced to two years in jail for the VAT fraud and two years for the money laundering.

Patel was also disqualified from being a director for six years.

Wai Fong (aka Katie) Yeung, 32, of Garstang Road, Fulwood, Preston, pleaded guilty on April 6 and was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in jail for the VAT fraud plus two-and-a-half years for the money laundering.

Yeung was also disqualified from being a director for six years.

Mohammed Mehtajee, 32, of Garstang Road, Fulwood, Preston pleaded guilty on April 4 and was sentenced to four years in jail for the VAT fraud and two years for the money laundering.

Mehtajee was also disqualified from being a director for six years.

All sentences are to run concurrently.

Bench warrants were issued for the arrest of the two absconders and extradition proceedings have commenced.

Those convicted face confiscation proceedings in November.

Lancashire Telegraph | Preston