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By | Kelly Fiveash 29th June 2007 12:54

MP's son jailed over VAT scam

Sentenced to three years

The son of Labour MP and millionaire businessman Mohammed Sarwar has been jailed for three years after being found guilty of an £850,000 VAT scam involving imported mobile phones.

Athif Sarwar, 28, of Lynebank Place, Mearnskirk was handed the custodial sentence yesterday at the High Court in Glasgow.

According to the BBC, Glasgow High Court judge Lord Carloway said he had no choice but to impose a jail term given the serious nature of the offence.

Sarwar's defence lawyer had urged the judge to be lenient and said his client's health had deteriorated due to the length of time it had taken for the case to come to court.

Last month, Sarwar was found guilty on two charges of laundering thousands of pounds between 24 February and 25 April 2003 when he worked at United Wholesale (Scotland) Ltd, Maxwell Road, Glasgow.

The court was told that Sarwar had electronically transferred money, described on the charge as "criminal property", into the firm's business account.

He then transferred the cash to an unknown person to conceal or disguise the nature, source, location or ownership of the transaction.

MP Mohammed Sarwar, who was in court to hear the sentencing, said: "My son is innocent and has done no wrong.

"We will be appealing and I'm sure at the end of the day justice will prevail and he'll be freed."

Missing Trader Intra-Community (MTIC), or carousel fraud as it is more commonly known, is a complex scam used to bypass VAT payments when mobile phone goods enter the UK from Europe.

A recent government clampdown (1 June) saw the introduction of a "reverse charge" scheme intended to help combat the scam. Carousel fraud cost UK taxpayers £3bn last year, according to HMRC figures.

Mobile phones and other goods such as computer chips had been favoured by VAT fraudsters due to their small size. ®

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