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Preston fugitives guilty of £57m fraud

Two men from Preston have been found guilty in their absence of charges relating to a £56.5 million VAT and money laundering fraud following a trial at Liverpool Crown Court.

Addullah Yusaf Allad, 32, of last known address Black Bull Lane and Adam Umerji, also known as Shafiq Patel, 33, of St John’s Court, Broughton, were originally charged in January 2009, but fled to Dubai.

Extradition procedures have commenced and similar cases of VAT fraud have resulted in custodial sentences of several years for those convicted, which means the pair could face a lengthy stay behind bars when they are sentenced in September.

Three others involved in the fraud pleaded guilty when they appeared in court earlier this year.

The gang operated a number of companies in the Preston area, trading in mobile phones, and submitted fraudulent VAT repayment claims to reclaim millions of pounds in VAT allegedly paid by them on the purchase of large quantities of stock.

They then transferred their criminal proceeds out of the UK to Dubai in an effort to conceal their illegal activities.

Mike O’Grady, assistant director criminal investigation, HM Revenue & Customs said, “Missing trader fraud is not merely a paper fraud, but often has links to other forms of criminal activity.

“In a blatant attack on our tax system these men stole a massive amount of money, lining their own pockets at the expense of the British taxpayer.”

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