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Preston counterfeit clothing boss sentenced to 20 years for fraud worth more than £150 million

Posted on - 28th May, 2023 - 1:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Crime, Fulwood, Lancashire Police, Preston News
Counterfeit clothes in a seized container
Counterfeit clothes in a seized container

The mastermind of a fake designer clothing scam involved in one of the UK’s largest ever carousel tax frauds has been sentenced to 20 years in jail.

Sock manufacturer Arif Patel, 55, of Dubai – formerly of Sharoe Green Lane in Fulwood – was sentenced in his absence.

His co-accused Mohamed Jaffar Ali, 59, also of Dubai, was sentenced in his absence to 11 years in jail.

A joint HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and Lancashire Police investigation found Arif Patel and his criminal gang tried to steal £97 million through VAT repayment claims on false exports of textiles and mobile phones. 

They also imported and sold counterfeit clothes that would have been worth at least £50 million, had they been genuine. The proceeds were used to buy property across Preston and London through offshore bank accounts.

In total, 26 members of this criminal empire have now been convicted and sentenced following six trials between 2011 and 2023, leading to jail terms totalling 147 years and seven months.

More than £78 million of the gang’s assets have been restrained and the process to recover these proceeds of crime is in progress.

Read more: Preston counterfeit clothing boss convicted of fraud worth more than £150 million

Eamonn O’Neill, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: ““Arif Patel and Mohamed Jaffar Ali were at the heart of one of the biggest carousel tax frauds this country has ever seen and the severity of their crimes has been recognised by today’s sentencing.

“We will continue to pursue those criminals who blatantly steal from the public services we all rely on and look to recover the proceeds of their crimes from current and future wealth.

“We are determined to ensure absconders face justice and we have helped secure the return of more than 70 fugitives since 2016, including some of the UK’s most harmful tax cheats.

“We encourage anyone with information about tax fugitives or suspected tax fraud should report it to us online. Search ‘Report Fraud HMRC’ on GOV.UK and complete our online form.”

Arif Umarji Patel
Arif Umarji Patel

Andrew Fox, Senior Prosecutor, CPS, added: “The sentencings of Arif Patel and Mohamed Jaffar Ali successfully conclude this part of an immense investigative and prosecution case against an organised criminal group, involved in counterfeit clothing, fraudulent VAT claims and money laundering.

“The cost to the public purse was tens of millions, money that could have been used for essential public services in the NHS, social care and education.

“Patel was sentenced in his absence, having remained in Dubai throughout the trial.

“The CPS will now pursue confiscation proceedings against the defendants, to prevent them enjoying the benefits of their criminal enterprise.”

Counterfeit underwear seized
Counterfeit underwear seized

Sam Mackenzie, Assistant Chief Constable, Lancashire Constabulary, said: “While presenting himself as a genuine and reputable businessman Arif Patel in fact used stolen taxpayers’ cash to line his own pockets and fund a lavish lifestyle. This is money that should have been used to fund the vital public services which we all rely on and to which most of us contribute our fair share by working hard and paying tax. 

“I welcome these sentences which are the culmination of a lengthy and complex investigation which has involved many years of hard work and dedication by police officers and staff and partners from HMRC who have worked together in a truly joint operation.”

At the sentencing, HHJ Everett said Patel led a “breathtakingly arrogant and dishonest organisation”.

Following a 14-week trial at Chester Crown Court, Arif Patel was found guilty of false accounting, conspiracy to cheat the public revenue, the onward sale of counterfeit clothing and money laundering.

Mohamed Jaffar Ali was also found guilty of conspiracy to cheat the Revenue and money laundering.

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