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By | Kelly Fiveash 24th May 2007 23:46

MP's son guilty of VAT carousel fraud

Dad will 'contest the verdict'

The son of Labour MP Mohammed Sarwar has been convicted of an £850,000 money laundering scam involving imported mobile phones.

The Glasgow High Court heard that Athif Sarwar, 28 of Lynebank Place, Mearnskirk had handled thousands of pounds of money described as "criminal property", the BBC reports.

Sarwar was found guilty of laundering various sums of money between 24 February and 25 April 2003 while working as a cash-and-carry manager at United Wholesale (Scotland) Ltd based in Maxwell Road, Glasgow.

Assistant manager of the cash and carry firm, Mansoor Khan, 43, of Giffnock, Glasgow, who had been co-accused in the case, was found not guilty of any involvement in the money laundering scam.

The money or "criminal property" was said to have been received by Sarwar who then electronically transferred the cash into the firm's business account.

The Court heard that cash was taken from the proceeds of a complex Missing Trader Intra-Community (MTIC), or "carousel fraud" as it is more commonly known, using mobile phones to bypass VAT payments when the goods enter the UK from Europe.

Sarwar, who had strongly disputed having any involvement in the scam, was granted bail and will be sentenced in June. His father, who is a millionaire businessman and Labour MP for Govan said he was "disappointed" by his son's conviction.

The MP, who had previously been found not guilty of trying to bribe a rival candidate in the 1997 general election, is said to be worth an estimated £16m.

"I genuinely, sincerely and passionately believe that my son has done nothing wrong. Everything was legal and above board.

"We will contest the verdict. There was no shred of evidence to convict and we will appeal against the sentence. I am certain that justice will win."

Sarwar was found guilty on two charges, one of laundering £565,000 as part of a VAT fraud scam and the second of moving £280,500 from the firm's bank account to another held by a shell company.

From 1 June this year, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will place a "reverse charge" on computer chips and mobile phones, to combat VAT fraud.

According to official figures from HMRC, carousel fraud cost British taxpayers £3bn last year. ®

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