A GANG of fraudsters invented £1.7bn of mobile phone sales to steal £176m from the government in one of the biggest tax swindles of all time.
AndTamraz Riaz, 35, of Plumpton Road, was the second in command within the gang.
Prosecutors described Riaz as the right hand man of ringleader, Dilawar Ravjani.
The gang made millions from the government in a complex ‘missing trader’ con involving the VAT-free import and export of phones from Europe.
They claimed to have sold four million handsets worth £1.7bn – including 250,000 handsets which had not even been launched in the UK.
And then they illegally claimed back £176m in tax which had never actually been paid.
Riaz ran businesses in Stanmore and Wakefield, Prestige Cars and Crystal Cars Ltd. He laundered some of the profits through Crystal Cars.
He was found guilty of conspiracy to cheat the Public Revenue and jailed for 13 years at Kingston Crown Court on Tuesday. He was also disqualified from being a company director for 10 years.
Ringleader Ravjani, 34, of Middlesex, was jailed for 17 years – the longest sentence ever handed out in the UK for this type of fraud.
The scam operated through a number of different companies set up by Ravjani and his family.
Riaz was the managing director of Innovative Global Business Group Ltd (IGB).
The firm bought the old ABC Cinema on Sun Lane after it closed in 1997.
In 2007 IGB received planning permission to turn it into flats but it went into receivership and the work was never started.
Chris Martin, assistant director of criminal investigation at Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs, 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.”