A Solihull man was ordered to repay £3.8 million of criminal profits or return to prison for a further seven and a half years for his part in a £54 million complex ‘missing trader’ VAT fraud.
Jaswant Raykanda, 46, of 5 Beech Gate, Little Aston, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, was sentenced to 4.5 years in 2006 following a complex six-year investigation by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). It involved two separate criminal trials and the conviction of seven men and one woman sentenced to a total of 40 years in prison. This included Emmanuel Hening who was jailed for 15 years, the longest sentence ever handed down by a British court for this type of crime.
Richard Meadows, Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation for HMRC, said:
“This was organised fraud on a massive scale perpetrated by criminals intent on making huge profits at the expense of the British taxpayer. ‘Missing trader’ fraud is not merely a paper fraud but often features links to other forms of criminal activity. This case is a further example of our determination and success in bringing to justice the criminals behind this type of fraud and taking away the proceeds of their crime.”
Assets restrained from Raykanda include:
• A house with a swimming pool in Beechgate, Little Aston, Birmingham, valued at around £1.5 million
• Commercial property at Jubilee House, Wheeleys Road, Birmingham, valued at around £985,000
• Three top of the range sports cars – a Mercedes CL55, a BMW X5 and a Lexus GC300, all with personalised number plates
• Investments in Switzerland and Jersey
• His lavish lifestyle enabled him to educate his children privately, purchase expensive watches, two properties in Spain and his Beechgate home was decorated by interior designers
The operation centred around a multi-million pound fraud using the mobile phone industry. Investigations by HMRC began in 2000 and involved breaking the audit trail of businesses based in the UK, Luxembourg and France through a company called Handycom SA operated by Hening. He sold the goods onto Raykanda who then claimed on invoices, to be purchasing large numbers of European specification mobile phones, with two-pin plugs, in the UK. The numbers he claimed to be purchasing far exceeded any legitimate commercial demand.
The phones were purportedly imported into the UK VAT free by various companies set up by Hening. He then sold the phones on paper, charging VAT that was never paid over to HMRC. These companies then went ‘missing’. The phones were then ‘sold’ down the line to various ‘buffer’ traders one of which was operated by Raykanda before they were exported back to Hening. Each company made an agreed profit margin on the phones. The companies were based in the West Midlands, Lancashire and the Isle of Man.