Birmingham & Black Country

Gambler Kuldip Sander jailed over £60m VAT fraud

A money launderer and prolific gambler has been jailed for seven years for his part in a £60m mobile phone VAT fraud.

Kuldip Singh Sander, 50, from Perry Barr in Birmingham, who was convicted of money laundering offences, was the last of 17 defendants to be sentenced.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) said its investigation spanned five countries and led to five trials with offenders being jailed for a total of 59 years.

The operation started in 2002 was one of the largest undertaken by HMRC.

'Ram-raiding Treasury'

A spokesman said the operation saw officers "unravel a complex multi-million VAT 'missing trader' fraud".

HMRC said the conspiracy also included the laundering of the proceeds and involved the corruption of a serving customs officer and a bank official. These two were among the 17 defendants who have been jailed.

The defendants - from Birmingham, the Black Country and Coventry and Leicester, were convicted of charges including money laundering, conspiracy to cheat the public revenue and agreeing to bribe an agent, HMRC said.

Image caption Sander 'oversaw' the money laundering, HMRC said

Sander, a prolific horse racing gambler, played a pivotal role and had responsibility for overseeing the money laundering part of the fraud, the spokesman added.

The fraud saw the group import mobile phones and computer chips from Europe, VAT free, which is legal.

Then they sold them on to each other, adding on VAT and claiming it back from HMRC before exporting them from the UK and claiming the rebate, again from the taxpayer, they added.

Adrian Farley, assistant director for HMRC, said the men were "ram-raiding the Treasury".

"This was not some kind of victimless crime, but organised fraud on a massive scale perpetrated by criminals all bent on making fast and easy profits at the expense of the British taxpayer.

"This was theft of revenue needed to fund our country's public services but instead it fuelled their elaborate lifestyles.

"'Missing trader' fraud is not merely a paper fraud but often features links to other forms of criminal activity such as drug smuggling and violent crime."

Up to £13m has so far been confiscated.

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