Umerji was believed to be a leading figure
Convicted fraudster Adam Umerji has been ordered to pay more than £37 million and faces an additional 10 years in prison if he fails to pay.
The 43-year-old had skipped his trial in 2009 and fled to Dubai.
He was convicted in his absence of conspiracy to cheat HMRC and conspiracy to transfer criminal property.
The scam involved duty paid on mobile phones and it was said to have cost the UK taxpayer £64 million.
Umerji was believed to be a leading figure in the tax fraud that ran for nine months until June 2006.
The scam was said to involve the fraudulent claiming of £30 million in tax rebates in an international mobile phone trading operation.
It involved buying goods from the European Union without paying tax and then selling them at tax-added prices without reimbursing the authorities for the lost revenue.
He was part of a conspiracy that used a network of companies as well as a huge number of transactions to cover up the VAT theft.
In his absence, he was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
Umerji attempted to challenge his sentence but on April 23, 2021, his appeal was dismissed.
The judgement said that “the interests of justice would be gravely prejudiced” if his application was allowed because of his absence from the UK for 12 years.
The fraudster tried to challenge the initial conviction on technical grounds again but failed to do so.
The CPS Proceeds of Crime Division applied to have the confiscation heard in his absence.
In the case, the judge accepted arguments made by the CPS because all reasonable steps had been taken to make him aware of the hearing and it was appropriate and fair to proceed in his absence.
Umerji has now been issued with a confiscation order of £37,667,622. The fraudster faces an additional 10 years in prison if he fails to pay.
Manjula Nayee, Specialist Prosecutor in CPS Proceeds of Crime Division, said:
“Despite Umerji being absent at the hearing, it is important to deprive him of money gained from illegal practices.”
“Umerji has defrauded the taxpayer of over £37 million – money that could be spent on the doctors, nurses, police officers and other vital public services.
“This is one of our largest ever confiscation orders and demonstrates where we can take money from people who have profited from crime, we will not hesitate to do so.
“In 2019/20, the CPS recovered over £100 million, stopping hundreds of criminals benefiting from their ill-gotten gains.”