Crime gang with links to Hove, Shoreham, Crawley and Burgess Hill jailed for 34 years
A crime gang that smuggled huge amounts of illicit alcohol into the UK and stole more than £16 million in taxes, have been jailed for a total of more than 34 years, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) confirmed today (Thursday, October 28).
Shafqat Majeed, from Hove, was given 10 years for leading the multimillion-pound VAT and excise fraud operation while living a life of luxury in a million-pound home and driving expensive cars, HMRC said.
Majeed orchestrated a criminal operation where huge quantities of alcohol was smuggled into the UK and sold via a wholesale company under his control called South Coast Wholesale Ltd. The company operated from two premises – Palace Drinks, in Shoreham-by-Sea, and Kaka Cash and Carry, in Manchester.
According to HMRC, the gang set up and used a fake network of businesses and supply chains, supported by reams of paperwork detailing fictitious transactions, to cheat the VAT system and evade paying excise duty.
The 52-year-old and 10 other gang members have now been sentenced following two separate trials and sentencing hearings at Southwark Crown Court.
An investigation by HMRC revealed the gang used a sophisticated network of fake businesses and created a trail of false paperwork on an industrial scale to cover up the conspiracy.
Other Sussex gang members included Sayed Shah, of Commonwealth Drive in Crawley, Liam Chenaf, of Woodfield Road in Crawley, and Daniel Booth, of Commercial Road in Burgess Hill.
Other gang members included Clare Hill, Casey Ruse, Ahmer Shafig, Jibran Khan, Zoheb Malik, Rahid Akram Khan and Mohammed Arfan Sadiq.
Zoe Ellerbeck, operational lead in the fraud investigation service of HMRC, said, “This was a highly sophisticated fraud which deprived £16m from our public services, NHS and emergency services, that so many of us depend on.
“Majeed and his associates committed serious crimes and now they have to face the life-changing consequences.
“The majority of individuals and businesses pay the tax that is due – however there remains a determined minority who refuse to play by the rules. We encourage anyone with information about tax crime to report it online, or call our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”
Confiscation proceedings are ongoing to recover the stolen VAT and excise duty.