Two VAT fraudsters, who chose to spend an extra decade in prison rather than pay back stolen cash, have had their £1million Northwood house sold by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
Syed Ahmed and Shakeel Ahmad, both 51, were jailed for seven years in 2007 for their part in a £12.6million VAT fraud that saw 21 individuals receive prison sentences totalling 74 years.
Despite the pair serving extra time in prison, the money is still owed, and HMRC investigators have worked to track down their hidden assets.
The pair had tried to hide several homes by placing them under the ownership of an offshore company registered in the British Virgin Islands.
This included a £2.1million house in Buckinghamshire, a flat in Knightsbridge that realised £3.4million, a flat in Battersea that realised £420,000, a house in Langley for £660,000, and a house in Northwood that realised £1million.
Adrian Foster, chief crown prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service’s Proceeds of Crime Division, said: “These defendants have tried to hide their assets in several different ways to avoid paying back the taxpayers’ money that they stole.
“We have overcome a number of challenges to enforce the orders against them and reclaim the money the men defrauded from HMRC so they cannot benefit from it now, or in their retirement.
Instead, it can now be used to pay for the fight against economic crime.
“This case demonstrates we will pursue criminals for money they benefitted from their illegal activity, and we will continue to do so, no matter how many obstacles we face.”
During sentencing in 2007, the judge described the duo as “complete liars and devious” and said they had “created a smokescreen to hide the value of your assets and conceal this from HMRC”.
Photo Credit: HMRC