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By | Joe Fay 3rd December 2010 13:20

Hefty porridge for £300m VAT ring

Revenue-nobbler bandits lived like kings on gov plunder

Five members of a missing trader fraud gang have received sentences of up to four and a half years for a £17m scam based around mobile phones, HMRC revealed yesterday.

The gang nobbled the revenue in a "complicated" fraud centred on mobile phones, SIM cards, memory and other mobile phone accessories.

HMRC said paperwork recovered during the fraud showed the gang had attempted to defraud the revenue of a further £5m, but these claims were stopped. Further paperwork showed the group eventually planned to defraud the public purse of another £300m.

Money from the fraud was spent on the gang's "extravagant lifestyles" including seven properties worth over £1m, a further £1m property in Spain and high performance cars including a £250,000 Rolls Royce Phantom and a £165,000 Ferrari.

HMRC said it has recovered £8m of assets and confiscation proceedings are now under way.

Harbinder Singh Samra, a 40-year-old from Sutton Coldfield, was described as "one of the principal players" and sentenced to four and a half years. He also received one year and three months for 113 separate counts of Contempt of Court, for failing to declare and spending hidden assets of £750,000 in breach of a proceeds of crime order placed on him when he was arrested in 2006. He has also been disqualified from being a company director for five years.

Ardip Singh Hayre, a 27-year-old from Sutton Coldfield, was also named as a principal player. He was sentenced to two years ten months, and disqualified from being a company director for four years.

The logistics and freight side of the operation was handled by Terence Thomas Broad, 65, of Brown Edge Staffs, and Russell Crowther, 48, of Conwy Wales. Broad received one year four months, while Crowther got two years three months. Both were disqualified as directors for four years.

Syed Faraz Hussain, 29, of Woking, was described as "the guiding mind behind several other companies within this fraud". He was sentenced to two years ten months and disqualified as a director for four years. ®

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