Jailed management accountant Aquil Ahmed along with his construction service director co-conspirator have the choice to either repay more than £3.5m or face a further five years imprisonment and still owe the money.
Ahmed and Victor Shearer, who used fraudulent payroll schemes to enjoy a “lavish lifestyle”, were ordered at a Maidstone crown court confiscation hearing last week to repay a total of £3,578,999.33 within three months or serve longer prison sentences.
In May 2016 Ahmed admitted using his Keepers accountancy business to fraudulently operate the payroll for Shearer’s company, Leaner Logistics Limited. For two and a half years, the pair along with Christopher Azzopardi used a network of companies and bank accounts to hide £6.9m in VAT, national insurance and CIS deductions from HMRC.
Short-term contractors introduced by Shearer believed Ahmed’s payroll company was calculating their wages and paying their taxes to HMRC, but in fact, the three men kept the VAT and the PAYE and CIS deductions.
Ahmed used the money to fund trips to Dubai and the Monaco Grand Prix, own properties in the UK, USA and Turkey, and purchased a Bentley.
Both men now face selling their assets as the criminal benefit is larger than the available assets. Ahmed’s criminal benefit was calculated as £4,165,494.08 and Shearer's as £1,326,938.35. The confiscation court ordered Ahmed to repay £2.9m within three months and Shearer's has £646,000 to pay back.
Speaking about the confiscation hearing order, HMRC’s assistant director at the fraud investigations service, Nicol Shepherd commented: “Ahmed and Shearer stole millions of pounds from the UK economy, using numerous UK and offshore companies to hide their fraud.”
“They were driven by greed, abusing systems that are designed to ensure workers are paid correctly and taxes paid to HMRC.
“They are still serving their prison sentences and if they fail to comply with these orders they will spend even more time behind bars - and still owe the money.”
Ahmed is currently serving his seven years and eight months sentence. He was also disqualified from being a company director for 10 years. Shearer, meanwhile, was jailed for seven years and six months for his part in the conspiracy and was also found guilty for money laundering.
About Richard Hattersley
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