Handset sellers jailed for £140 million VAT scam

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Five men who imported handsets VAT free and then resold them VAT inclusive have been jailed for a combined total of nearly 40 years

Five men who illegally imported mobile phones have been jailed for a combined 37 and a half years for failing to pay HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) £140 million in VAT.

The men, Andrew Hart ( pictured top left), Mohammed Chaudhery, Kevin Davis (top right), Abdul Jabbar Butt (bottom left) and Tariq Sarwar (bottom right) where all part of a syndicate that imported handsets and central processing units, VAT free from EU countries.

Hart, Chaudhery, Davis and Butt each set up their own limited company, each which existed for a maximum of five weeks, to handle the importation, while Sarwar allegedly coordinated the businesses activities.

The gang then resold the devices to a UK customer base, inclusive of VAT, earning between £26.5 million to £39.1 million each.

None of the money has been repaid to HMRC and confiscation of the men’s assets is being sought.

On passing sentence His Honour Judge Tanzer said: “Society as a whole has been harmed by the type of activity you have indulged in.

“The loss to society is in the billions.”

Meanwhile convicted fraudster Craig Johnson who earned £20 million from similar fraud scam has been jailed for a further eight years, after being unable to pay back a £26 million confiscation order.

Johnson, who was originally sentenced to 12 and a half years jail in 2006, headed up a serious organised crime gang that earned £138 million by also importing mobile devices VAT free and reselling them VAT inclusive.

Johnson was unable to pay the confiscation order despite selling a variety of assets including four UK properties including a stately home in Staffordshire, high performance vehicles including a Bentley and a Ferrari as well as Rolex watches and diamond jewellery.

He was due to be released from his original sentence in April.

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