Pakistani Immigrant Bilks UK Taxpayers of 2.2 Million...
A jailed Birmingham tax fraudster who hid his wealth in the UK while building a palace in Pakistan has been ordered to pay back £2.2 million within six months – or face a further ten years in prison.
Mohammed Suleman Khan, 43, was sentenced to four years last April after defrauding the taxman of £450,000.
The nine-year scam was exposed after police raided his Moseley home and discovered plans for his own ‘Buckingham Palace’ in Pakistan, complete with library, cinema and servant quarters.
Serving inmate Khan faced a proceeds of crime hearing at Liverpool Crown Court last week and was ordered to pay £2,209,090 within six months.
If he fails to hand over the cash he faces a further ten years in prison.
The tax fraudster had contested the order, brought by West Midlands Police and prosecuted at court by Andrew Smith, QC.
Judge Andrew Menary QC presided over the week-long case, which heard details of Khan’s complicated financial affairs.
The original tax fraud court case heard he had lived in a gated £500,000 house in Moseleyand drove a BMW, but had no obvious job.
His family home belonged to relatives and only small amounts of money went through his bank accounts.
Yet while he was careful to avoid showing trappings of wealth in the UK, detectives from West Midlands Police’s Force CID discovered he had secretly paid for the £2.3 million mansion to be built in Pakistan.
In court, his defence portrayed him as a legitimate businessman who had earned around £400,000 over the nine-year period from debt collecting and other business interests in the UK and abroad.
But police found no evidence of a legitimate debt collecting company and their investigation proved he had netted over £1 million during that period, without paying the required tax and National Insurance.
A search of Khan’s Birmingham home after his arrest uncovered plans for the ‘palace’ in the Attock region of Pakistan.
The outer shell and roof of the building had been completed by Khan at a cost of £893,000.
Once finished, the property would have been valued at £2.3 million.
Khan did not utter a word during his police interview or court appearances, aside from ‘guilty’ when he admitted cheating the public revenue during an appearance at Birmingham Crown Court in November 2013.
His honour Judge Menary QC had presided over the original case and agreed Khan was living beyond legitimate means, the most obvious evidence of that being his Pakistan property.
He said: “It is enormous with dozens of rooms, a library, servant quarter, cinema, underground parking and guard rooms. It is the size of Buckingham Palace.’’
Det Insp Andy Bannister had led the dedicated team which had uncovered Khan’s complicated tax fraud.
He had said after the fraud case: “The sentence handed out sends a clear message to all members of the community that evasion of tax and National Insurance are serious criminal offences.
“No matter your standing within the community, police and other agencies such as Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs will seek to investigate and where appropriate prosecute individuals who are perceived or seen to be living a lifestyle or own property inconsistent with legitimately earned income.”
Birmingham Crown Court, which transferred the case to Liverpool, confirmed the details of the repayment order.
Khan was known in criminal circles as ‘The General’ after twice being questioned over the cold-blooded execution of a dad while he worked out at a gym.
He was in Pakistan when Azmat Yaqub was machine gunned down in broad daylight while bench-pressing weights at a Birmingham fitness centre.
It was the second time in less than 18 months that the 35-year-old new dad had been targeted by gunmen.
The previous attempt had failed because Mr Yaqub, known as Tony, was wearing a bullet-proof vest and he received only minor injuries to his shoulder.
His friend Shaham Ali, 30, was shot dead in the drive-by killing in March 2003 which was linked to a row between factions at Birmingham Central Mosque.
Two brothers were later cleared of murder and attempted murder but Mr Yaqub remained a target.
In July 2004 his killers struck while he was at his most exposed, working out at the Chic Physique gym in Sparkhill.
Stunned onlookers watched helplessly as two men calmly approached Mr Yaqub and fired up to ten bullets at close range.
The hitmen fled in a car leaving Mr Yaqub, whose wife had given birth just days earlier, to die at the scene from head and chest wounds.
Police later described the brazen killing as a “cold blooded execution” and a number of suspects were questioned but later released.
They included Khan, who was arrested after flying in from Pakistan just days after the hit.
A police source close to the yet-unsolved murder investigation said: “Khan was arrested after returning to Birmingham from Pakistan a few days after the murder and he was questioned at length.”
An appeal was later made on the BBC’s Crimewatch programme but Mr Yaqub’s killers have continued to evade police and no motive for his murder has ever been revealed by police.
Khan’s jailing for tax fraud sent shockwaves around Birmingham’s criminal fraternity, who had held him up to a near “mythical” status.
He was considered untouchable and had been implicated in numerous disputes which had lead to serious violence.
One gangland source said: “In recent years he was said to have turned religious but this man was still feared and his dealings and movements were shrouded in mystery.
“Not many people had even ever set eyes on him and he had this kind of mythical status where people only said his name in hushed tones.
“Most people referred to him simply as ‘The General’ which gave an indication of the kind of status he had in the community.”
DI Andy Bannister, senior investigating officer, said: “Mohammed Suleman Khan at no point in the investigation co-operated or provided credible evidence of his income.
“In making this order his honour Judge Menary QC concluded that Mohammed Suleman Khan had benefitted from a criminal lifestyle to the amount of £2,209,090.
“This verdict further confirms that those convicted of a criminal offence are liable in certain circumstances for the confiscation of all their assets when no serious injustice is found."