A Manchester crook who went on the run when his handwritten ledger books implicated him in a multi-million-pound money laundering fraud has been sentenced in his absence.
Jamshed Bhatti, 60, formerly of Stockport Road, Longsight, was caught with £50,970 in cash when HMRC investigators searched his home in August 2015. Two handwritten records of his financial accounts were also found and helped prove that almost £3.5 million had passed through Bhatti’s hands in the previous three months.
Bhatti was charged in December 2016 with money laundering, but he absconded to Pakistan before his trial. He was found guilty of money laundering at Manchester Crown Court in September 2019 and sentenced in absence in October 2019 to six-and-a-half years in prison.
Tony Capon, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “The amounts of money described in Bhatti’s ledgers are staggering and he resorted to concocting an imaginary company to try and explain his criminal activity. Bhatti will be jailed if he steps foot in the UK and we would appeal for anyone with information about his whereabouts to get in touch.
“People involved in money laundering help to fund the illegal activities of organised crime gangs. We will not hesitate to seize proceeds of crime and investigate anyone who may be involved.”
Bhatti’s record books contained more than 1,500 incoming and outgoing amounts from £1,000 up to £160,000, with no written detail of where the money came from or where it went. He told investigators the money came from his import and export business J&F Traders Ltd, which Bhatti claimed facilitated trade between Pakistan and the UK. However, no VAT registration or any tax returns for the business existed and Bhatti had declared little income in the last ten years which meant he hadn’t paid tax since 2006.
In addition to Bhatti being sentenced in his absence, the £50,000 found at his home was forfeited at a hearing in May 2016. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.