A mobile phone trader was ordered to repay £3.8 million or return to prison for seven-and-a-half years for his part in a £54 million VAT fraud.
Handycom’s audit trails were investigated by HM Revenue and Custom (HMRC) in 2000, which was trading with businesses in the UK, Luxembourg and France. Handycom was owned by Emmanuel Henning and sold goods onto Jaswant Raykanda who claimed to be purchasing large numbers of European specification mobile phones in the UK. The numbers he claimed to be purchasing exceeded any legitimate commercial demand, it was claimed.
Raykanda was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in 2006 following a HMRC investigation and ordered to repay £3.8 million. Two separate criminal trials were held with seven men and one woman being sentenced to a total of 40 years in prison. Hening, who was jailed for 15 years, was given the longest sentence ever for this type of crime in the UK.
HMRC assistant director of criminal investigation Richard Meadows said: “This was organised fraud on a massive scale perpetrated by criminals intent on making huge profits at the expense of the British taxpayer. ‘Missing trader’ fraud is not merely a paper fraud but often features links to other forms of criminal activity. This case is a further example of our determination and success in bringing to justice the criminals behind this type of fraud and taking away the proceeds of their crime.”
Assets restrained from Raykanda include a house with swimming pool in Birmingham, valued at £1.5 million, commercial property at Jubilee House, Wheeleys Road, Birmingham, valued at £985,000, three sports cars – a Mercedes CL55, a BMW X5 and a Lexus GC300, all with personalised number plates and investments in Switzerland and Jersey.