HARROW accountant Abu Talib Ghadiri, 34, has been found guilty for his involvement in a £400,000 Gift Aid and VAT fraud after an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs.
The investigation found that Ghadiri and his brother Mohsin Raza, 33, were running a Gift Aid fraud linked to two charities – the Fatimiyya Trust and The Light Charity. Both charities falsely claimed to promote education, development of medical centres and help for victims of natural disasters in Pakistan.
In addition, Ghadiri made false VAT repayment claims for £47,000, which were linked to seven bogus companies. Ghadiri claimed that the companies had been set up by his estranged ex-girlfriend and he was not involved, despite his home serving as the registered address and his National Insurance number being connected to each of the company accounts.
Ghadiri’s former girlfriend told the court that Ghadiri was in control of the companies and was simply using her details to avoid getting caught.
Martin Brown, assistant director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “Gift Aid is there to support and encourage charitable giving, not to enable greedy criminals to line their own pockets. This kind of fraud is illegal, offensive and wrong. HMRC will come down on it hard.”
Ghadiri made false Gift Aid repayments claims for the Fatimiyya Trust of almost £82,250 – £58,524 of this was paid – and with co-trustee Mohsin Raza claimed £199,788 for The Light Charity of which £116,369.68 was repaid. They listed donations from deceased taxpayers, sometimes months after their deaths, and used the details of ineligible taxpayers on the forms to claim the repayments.
In a separate fraud uncovered during the HMRC investigation, Salih Ozbay, 38, an associate of Ghadiri and company secretary of Smart Price Builders, made a false VAT repayment claim to HMRC for £69,442.Ozbay was arrested by HMRC on suspicion of VAT fraud linked to Smart Price Builders Ltd.
The men were arrested in April 2014 and were found guilty yesterday (12 April 2016) after a trial at Harrow Crown Court. They will be sentenced on 29 April 2016 at the same court. A fourth man was found not guilty.
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The average cost of fraud increased 35.4% to £3.9m in 2016, compared to 2015 data