Five fraudsters, who created fake payslips and provided false information on around 900 visa applications, falsely claimed £13m in tax repayments.
The fraudsters, Abul Kalam Muhammad Rezaul Karim (known as AKM), aged 42, Enamul Karim, aged 34, Kazi Borkot Ullah, aged 39, Jalpa Trivedi, aged 41, and Mohammed Tamij Uddin, aged 47, have been sentenced to a total of more than 31 years in jail.
The group of five set up 79 bogus companies, and created fake documentation, which were used by Bangladeshi nationals in fraudulent visa applications. They also used these companies to attempt to fraudulently reclaim £13m in tax repayments from HMRC over a six-year period.
HMRC said the immigration fraud was uncovered in 2011 when the Home Office identified a suspicious pattern in a series of points-based applications for tier one general and entrepreneur visas.
It said both routes had a significant financial requirement, with applicants earning points based either on previous earnings or by demonstrating they had access to a minimum of £50,000 to invest in UK business. Case workers noticed that several applications were being submitted using slight variations on the same company names.
An investigation by Immigration Enforcement’s Criminal and Financial Investigation (CFI) team was launched and HMRC were called in to probe the validity of the companies and PAYE claims linked to them.
The gang claimed their clients were employees, as part of their tax and immigration fraud. They created fake payslips and provided false information on around 900 visa applications to ensure eligibility for a tier one visa. At the time of the offences, tier one (general) and tier one (entrepreneur) visas were both potential paths to obtaining settlement in the UK.
The fraudsters transferred money into clients’ bank accounts to make them appear well-paid employees, with one client, a worker at a fast food restaurant, able to claim annual earnings of almost £60,000. The money was paid back to the advisor the following month and, between 2008 and 2013, millions were laundered through the bank accounts.
Officers found that the fraudsters charged some clients, on temporary visas wanting to remain in the UK, a minimum of £700 in cash for their fraudulent immigration services.
Trivedi, an ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) qualified accountant, enabled the fraud to happen by providing official letters certifying the amounts the visa applicants had supposedly invested in their businesses.
Karim and his accomplices were arrested in February 2013. They were found guilty on November 16 this year after a trial that lasted 35 weeks at Southwark Crown Court. AKM Karim, Enamul Karim and Ullah, absconded in July 2018 during the trial.