Manchester

Levenshulme man who laundered £3.5m paid no tax for 10 years

Jamshed Bhatti Image copyright HMRC
Image caption Jamshed Bhatti had declared little income, but was caught with £51,000 in cash at his home

A fraudster who invented an imaginary company to launder £3.5m in three months has been sentenced.

Jamshed Bhatti, 60, of Stockport Road, Levenshulme, was caught with £51,000 in cash when HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) searched his home in August 2015.

Bhatti was charged with money laundering in December 2016, but absconded to Pakistan before his trial.

At Manchester Crown Court on Wednesday he was sentenced in his absence to six and a half years.

He had been found guilty of money laundering on 4 September 2019.

Two handwritten records of his financial accounts also found in the search had helped prove that almost £3.5m had passed through Bhatti's hands in the previous three months, HMRC officials said.

Image copyright HMRC
Image caption Almost £3.5m had passed through Bhatti's hands in the three months

The books contained more than 1,500 incoming and outgoing amounts from £1,000 up to £160,000, with no written detail of where the money came from or where it went.

He told investigators the money came from his import and export business J&F Traders Ltd, which Bhatti claimed facilitated trade between Pakistan and the UK.

But no VAT registration or any tax returns for the business existed and Bhatti had declared little income in the last ten years which meant he had not paid tax since 2006.

Tony Capon, the assistant director of HMRC's Fraud Investigation Service, said: "The amounts of money described in Bhatti's ledgers are staggering and he resorted to concocting an imaginary company to try and explain his criminal activity.

"People involved in money laundering help to fund the illegal activities of organised crime gangs. We will not hesitate to seize proceeds of crime and investigate anyone who may be involved."

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