In a significant move by HMRC, properties belonging to two individuals convicted of a carousel VAT fraud have been seized and sold. Syed Ahmed and Shakeel Ahmed, both based in Northwest London, were initially imprisoned in 2007 due to their role in a staggering £12.6m VAT scam. The duo had their jail terms extended by a decade when they declined to return the misappropriated funds.
The Ahmeds were convicted of committing VAT fraud under a broader missing trader intra-community fraud (MTIC) that was orchestrated by an organised crime syndicate. This large-scale VAT deception led to 21 individuals being handed prison sentences that cumulatively amounted to 74 years.
From the sale of five properties owned by the Ahmeds in North West London, HMRC amassed £7.5m. This action came as a conclusion to a meticulous inquiry into concealed assets. Notably, one of these properties, a lavish mansion, was registered to an offshore entity located in the British Virgin Islands. This particular estate fetched an amount exceeding £2.1m at auction, a sum that was double its listed price.
The extravagant mansion in Buckinghamshire, occupying 1.65 acres of opulent grounds, boasts amenities such as two kitchens, five reception rooms, five bedrooms, and even a sauna.
Additionally, a plush flat situated in Knightsbridge fetched £3.45m, and a residence in Northwood, Middlesex, was sold for £1m.
To date, by identifying and confiscating the assets of the Ahmeds, HMRC has successfully recouped approximately £10m.
The 2007 sentencing observed the judge remarking that the pair had “created a smokescreen to hide the value of your assets and conceal this from HMRC.”
Offering her insights on the matter, Nicol Sheppard, the assistant director in HMRC’s fraud investigation service, stated, “This house sale is a great result for taxpayers and it shows our work does not stop with a prison sentence. It is our job to make sure taxpayers get their money back. We’ve recovered more than £10m from these two men, and we’ll carry on looking for more assets. Any we find will be sold to recover the money they stole with interest.”
She further encouraged public cooperation, saying, “Anyone with information about suspected tax fraud can report it to HMRC online.”