Two Kent men who funded lavish lifestyles by payroll fraud have been ordered to pay back more than £3.5m within three months, or serve longer prison terms and still owe the money.
Aquil Ahmed, 61, an accountant, and co-conspirator Victor Shearer, 44, a construction services company director, both from Kent, were jailed in October 2016. They were part of a conspiracy that defrauded HMRC of £6.9m in VAT, income tax, National Insurance contributions and Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) deductions through fraudulent payroll schemes.
Ahmed’s accountancy businesses ran the payroll for Shearer’s company, Leaner Logistics Limited. Shearer introduced other clients to the payroll company and use of the fraudulent scheme. Workers believed their taxes were being paid to HMRC, but instead they were lining the men’s pockets.
The pair face selling their assets to pay back a total of £3,578,999.33 after confiscation hearings at Maidstone Crown Court. Ahmed must repay £2.9m within three months, or face a further five years in jail and still have to pay up. Shearer must pay back £646,000 within three months, or face a further three years in jail and still owe the money.
Nicol Sheppard, assistant director of HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service, said: “We do everything we can to stop criminals profiting from their crimes and to recover the money to fund the public purse. 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.”
In June 2016 Ahmed admitted conspiracy to cheat the public revenue. He was jailed for seven years and eight months in October 2016, and disqualified from being a company director for ten years. In July 2016 Shearer was convicted of conspiracy to cheat the public revenue and money laundering. He was jailed for seven years and six months, and disqualified from being a company director for ten years.
During his trial the court heard Shearer laundered £1.2m through a Gibraltar bank account and spent money on property and high-living including ski-holidays, cars and treating friends, family and clients. Ahmed owned a Bentley, bought properties in the UK, USA and Turkey, and took multiple foreign holidays including trips to Dubai and the Monaco Grand Prix.
The men’s criminal benefit is more than the assets currently available. HMRC can pursue any future wealth to cover the full criminal benefit.