£37 million had been laundered through the gang-operated companies.
Convicted fraudster Abdullah Alad has been ordered to pay over £37 million and faces 10 years in prison if he fails to pay.
The 41-year-old from Preston skipped his trial and fled to Dubai.
Allad was convicted in his absence of offences of conspiracy to cheat HMRC and conspiracy to launder money.
He was part of a group which submitted bogus VAT repayment claims in order to reclaim millions of pounds in VAT paid by them on the purchase of large quantities of stock.
The gang operated a number of companies trading in mobile phones.
In a bid to conceal their illegal activities, the criminal proceeds were transferred out of the UK to Dubai.
Allad and Adam Umerji led the missing trader fraud. Over a 10-month period, VAT repayment claims for over £56.5 million were submitted.
Investigators also discovered that £37 million had been laundered through the gang-operated companies.
It has been referred to as ‘missing trader fraud’ because the fraudster has absconded with the VAT.
Umerji and Allad fled the UK. The three others were jailed for a total of 15 years in 2011.
Allad was sentenced in his absence to a total of 17 years in prison. He was also disqualified from being a director for 10 years.
Umerji received the same prison sentence and was also banned from being a director for 10 years.
Given that the fraudster remains on the run, the CPS Specialist Proceeds of Crime Division applied to have the confiscation heard in his absence.
In this case, the judge accepted CPS arguments to go ahead with the hearing because all reasonable steps had been taken to make Allad aware of the hearing.
It was also appropriate to proceed under section 27 of the Proceeds of Crime Act, which allows for a confiscation hearing to happen in the absence of a defendant.
Allad has now been issued with a confiscation order of £37,667,622.
Manjula Nayee, Specialist Prosecutor of CPS Proceeds of Crime Division, said:
“Despite Mr Allad being absent at the hearing, we felt it was important to go ahead to ensure the appropriate order was in place and could be enforced.
“Mr Allad has defrauded the taxpayer of over £37 million, monies that could be spent on the NHS and other vital public services.
“Where we can take money from people who have profited from crime, we will not hesitate to do so.
“Last year the CPS recovered over £100 million, stopping hundreds of criminals benefitting from their ill-gotten gains.”