An Indian national accused of attempting to steal around GBP 97 million via VAT refund claims on phoney exports of textiles and mobile phones with the aid of a criminal gang was sentenced to 20 years in jail for tax fraud in the UK on Thursday. He was the brains behind a phoney designer apparel scheme.
Arif Patel, a 55-year-old sock maker, was found guilty last month in connection with one of Britain's largest-ever “carousel” tax scams, according to the tax department.
After a 14-week trial at Chester Crown Court, Patel was found guilty of fraudulent accounting, conspiring to defraud the public, selling counterfeit clothes further, and money laundering.
“Arif Patel led an opulent lifestyle at the cost of the vast majority of law-abiding citizens. The National Health Service and other essential public services that we all rely on are funded by money that fraudsters like this pair steal, according to Richard Las, Director of the Fraud Investigation Service at His Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), who was leading a joint investigation with the local Lancashire police.
Through the use of offshore bank accounts, Patel and his gang imported and sold counterfeit clothing that, if they had been genuine, would have cost at least GBP 50 million. The money was then used to purchase real estate in Preston in northern England and London.
Mohamed Jaffar Ali, a 58-year-old co-accused from Dubai who was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud HMRC and money laundering, was also given an 11-year jail term on Friday.
According to Eamonn O'Neill, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service at HMRC, “Arif Patel and Mohamed Jaffar Ali were at the centre of one of the largest carousel tax frauds this country has ever seen, and the severity of their crimes has been recognised by today's sentencing.”
According to the UK tax authority, 26 members of the criminal enterprise have already been found guilty and given prison sentences totaling 147 years and seven months after six trials between 2011 and 2023. The effort to retrieve the gang's profits of crime, which total more than GBP 78 million, is now underway.
Having stayed in Dubai during the trial, Patel was sentenced “in his absence,” according to Andrew Fox, Senior Prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
“The CPS will now pursue confiscation proceedings against the defendants, to prevent them from enjoying the benefits of their criminal enterprise,” he added.
According to the HMRC, Patel's criminal organisation included “dozens of lieutenants” spread out throughout the UK, including professional enablers. Anil Hindocha, 69, from Preston, and Yogesh Patel, 66, from Aylesbury, two chartered accountants from a Preston-based firm, were implicated in this.
Hindocha was previously found guilty of fraudulent accounting, conspiring to defraud the tax authority, and money laundering in 2014 and sentenced to 12 years and 10 months in prison. For the same acts, Yogesh Patel received a five-year, seven-month sentence.