A FORMER Pendle councillor must pay back £144,000 by a proceeds of crime hearing in six months or he will be jailed.

Dad-of-seven Mohammed Ansar, 52, served as a Labour councillor in the Whitefield ward in Nelson on Pendle Council for four years.

In 2011, he admitted laundering more than £92,000 in cash and was jailed for 10 months.

Magistrates have now ordered him to repay £144,552 in six months or face two years and six months in prison.

Yesterday a woman at his large detached house in St Paul's Road, Nelson, said he did not want to comment when approached by the Lancashire Telegraph.

The defendant was caught out when police investigated the ill-gotten gains of his drug-dealing sons, Shamraiz and Khobibe, who were also jailed after pleading guilty to conspiracy to supply heroin in 2008.

Police found cash passing through his account that could not be otherwise accounted for.

At the original hearing Ansar told Burnley Crown Court that he knew the cash represented the proceeds of tax evasion, but did not know it was from drug supplying.

The prosecution said that Ansar had built up a property portfolio from the proceeds of his own fraudulent conduct and the criminal conduct of Shamraiz and Khobibe Ansar.

He had put up a £10,000 surety in tainted money to get Khobibe bail.

He had also built up a portfolio of property and started a business, St Paul’s Properties, described by the prosecution as ‘a name with a bank account’.

It had been set up, but not in Ansar’s name, allegedly to evade tax, but was paid about £110,000 from Pendle Borough Council in housing benefits, as well as £39,000 in private rents.

Speaking after the case, Det Insp Andy Ellis, from the Lancashire Constabulary Proceeds of Crime Unit, said: “I am happy with the fact that we have finally been able to get back the money that Mohammed Ansar illegally amassed, after a long investigation that originally started in 2007.

“POCA seizures allow us to take back cash from offenders which they have gained through their criminal behaviour. We can seize cash, cars and even a person’s home if it is thought these items were used to facilitate carrying out crime or were bought with illegal profits.

“I hope this sends out a warning, if we find you with cash that you cannot account for, you will be targeted and we will seize back the money you have made no matter how long it takes.”

Ansar, who came to this country in 1969, had run a clothes shop, a taxi firm, an off-licence, and had worked as an HGV driver. He served on the council between 1999 and 2003.