the fraudulent claiming of £30 million in tax rebates
One of the UK’s most wanted tax fugitives has lost an appeal against a 12-year jail sentence for a multi-million-pound scam.
Adam Umerji was convicted in 2009 over a scam involving duty paid on mobile phones.
It was said to have cost the UK taxpayer £64 million.
The 43-year-old has not appeared in person in court since he was charged in 2009. However, he has instructed legal firms from his base in Dubai.
He also successfully challenged an extradition attempt.
But on April 23, 2021, his attempt to have his conviction retracted was dismissed at the Court of Appeal.
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.
Umerji, also known as Shafiq Patel, 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.
This is known as carousel fraud.
Investigators discovered a string of bogus traders and businesses involved in Umerji’s scam.
It was found he had no storage facilities and no distribution network in the UK for his claimed import-export phone business.
The companies that were connected to hundreds of deals involving the phones used the banking facilities of the First Curacao International Bank.
It was allegedly running services for the carousel fraud industry before being closed down in 2006 by the Dutch authorities.
Hundreds of alleged carousel fraudsters had accounts at the bank that offered anonymity and fast transfers for criminals to build a fake paper trail of trading.
This allowed them to fraudulently claim tax rebates.
The ill-gotten gains were paid into overseas bank accounts controlled by the fugitive and his accomplice Abdullah Allad.
Investigators managed to trace the money to accounts linked to the two men.
Umerji was arrested in 2007 but declined to comment. He and Allad fled the UK to the UAE a couple of years later.
In 2011, both men were sentenced in their absence to 12 years in prison.
Umerji’s brother and two other men pleaded guilty. They were subsequently jailed.
Even though they were on the run, the fugitives appealed against their convictions. The verdicts were revoked on a technicality in 2014. A retrial was ordered.
Extradition of the pair was sought for the second trial.
Under a 2008 agreement, both countries can extradite suspects who have allegedly committed crimes punishable by more than a year in prison.
The National News reported that in 2016, the UAE authorities rejected the request.
In 2018, the trial went ahead with neither defendant present. This time, Umerji was sentenced to 12 years in jail and Allad to more than 10 years.