By Chris York
Five men who ran a multi-million pound tax and immigration scam have been sentenced to more than 31 years in jail after a 35-week trial.
The organised crime group claimed £13 million in tax repayments and facilitated around 900 bogus visa applications in an elaborate scheme that spanned six years.
The fraud was discovered in 2011 and involved the use of 79 bogus companies to create fake documents that were then used by Bangladeshi nationals in fraudulent visa applications.
When applying for visas with a significant financial requirement, the group would claim the applicants were employees of one of their bogus companies.
They would then transfer money into their accounts and create fake payslips. One client, a worker at a fast food restaurant, able to claim annual earnings of almost £60,000.
The loaned money was then paid back to the group. Applicants were charged £700 in cash for their fraudulent immigration services.
The bogus companies laundered the money to fraudulently reclaim £13 million in tax repayments from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
Those involved were:
- Ringleader London law student Abul Kalam Muhammad (known as AKM) Rezaul Karim, 42 – jailed for ten years and six months
- Enamul Karim, 34, from Dagenham – jailed for nine years and four months
- Kazi Borkot Ullah, 39. from Dagenham – jailed for five years and ten months
- Jalpa Trivedi, 41, from St Albans – jailed for three years
- Mohammed Tamij Uddin, 48, from Bethnal Green, London – jailed for two years and six months
Karim and his accomplices were arrested on 26 February 2013. They were found guilty on 16 November 2018 after a trial that lasted 35 weeks at Southwark Crown Court.
AKM Karim, Enamul Karim and Ullah, absconded in July 2018 during the trial and warrants have been issued for their arrest but their whereabouts are unknown.
Lyn Sari, Deputy Director, Immigration Enforcement’s Criminal and Financial Investigation, said: “My officers, working alongside our partners at HMRC, have conducted a thorough and complex investigation to dismantle a serious organised crime group that was intent on undermining the UK’s immigration system.
“The length of the investigation – the longest ever undertaken by CFI – is in itself an indication of the sophisticated criminality that these offenders were engaged in. My officers have shown tremendous tenacity, as well as expertise, to bring this case to a successful conclusion.
“It sends a clear message that we will not hesitate to prosecute anyone involved in this type of criminality.”