Three men have been jailed for a total of almost 20 years for conspiring to steal £250 million in VAT through the import and export of mobile phones.
At Southwark Crown Court on September 12, Cardiff man Taher Majid, 36, was sentenced to 10 years in prison and disqualified from being a company director for 10 years, running concurrently.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said Majid was a principal player in the fraud, organising the chain of companies and how they would be used in the crimes.
Manchester man Abdul Koser, 42, was sentenced to five years in prison and concurrently disqualified from being a company director for five years.
Koser was said to have acted as a buffer trader, using his VAT-registered business to put distance between the ‘missing trader’ and the ‘broker’ in the fraud.
The third man, Londoner Quentin Reynolds, 44, was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison and also concurrently disqualified from being a company director for five years. Reynolds also acted as a buffer trader.
A fourth man, Marcus Hughes, 38, of Staffordshire, was sentenced to six years in prison in April. He was already serving a 12-year prison sentence for drug smuggling.
HMRC said the investigation, code-named Operation Euripus, uncovered one of the UK’s largest VAT fraud conspiracies.
The Court heard that, on July 2, 2003, HMRC officers arrested more than 40 suspects from around the UK and searched more than 100 homes and businesses. Information from documents and computers seized provided evidence of the fraudulent activities, and offshore bank accounts were identified showing monies being transferred from the UK and the EU into accounts in Hong Kong, Pakistan and Dubai.
Judge David Higgins said: “This was an attack on the very fabric of our society. It is deplorable and deeply antisocial. The public is entitled to be, and is, outraged.”