A Leicestershire couple who had been on the run for nearly a decade were jailed yesterday for a total of seven years and one month for their part in a VAT ‘missing trader’ fraud.
The move follows a successful investigation by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).
Jiva Parmar and his wife Rekha Parmar purportedly imported phones into the UK VAT free. A contrived chain of companies were set up, one of which was operated by Jiva Parmer, called Sphinx IT Ltd, and another by his wife Rekha Parmar, called AUM Mobile Communications, based in Sweden.
AUM Mobile Communications sold mobile phones to Sphinx IT Ltd with no VAT payable, who in turn sold them to a UK wholesaler charging VAT on the sale. However, the company went ‘missing’ without paying the VAT over to HMRC.
The couple failed to answer a summons in 2002 for their part in the plot to steal £3.9m. It is believed that they fled to India and then Dubai.
An international arrest warrant was issued and they were both detained when they separately tried to enter the UK through Heathrow Airport last year.
Gary Lampon, assistant director of criminal investigation, for HMRC said: ‘This case shows that those who attempt to escape justice by fleeing the UK, will be pursued. They will be brought before the courts to face the consequences of their criminal actions.
‘This was organised fraud on a massive scale by criminals intent on making huge profits at the expense of the British taxpayer. “Missing trader” fraud is not merely a paper fraud but often features links to other forms of criminal activity. This will serve as a severe warning to others that they can only hide for so long before they are caught and jailed.’