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Blackburn gang’s £4.5m 'platinum con’
12:10pm Wednesday 27th June 2012 in News
A PLATINUM-trading gang defrauded the taxman out of £5million during a two-year scam, a court has heard.
Three Blackburn men, along with two others, are alleged to have masterminded a ‘massive’ VAT fraud involving tens of millions pounds worth of platinum imported from Italy, it has been alleged.
The gang cheated the Customs and Revenue out of just over £4.5 million during a two-year fraud and deliberately hid the debt by destroying business records, claimed Stuart Lawson-Rogers, QC, prosecuting.
The conspirators used three companies and bought and sold platinum purchased from two Italian companies.
Liverpool Crown Court heard that they allegedly bought the precious metal VAT-free, had it processed to reduce its purity and then brought to the UK where it was then sold to a legitimate customer in London with VAT added to the price.
“The agreed price, together with the VAT, was duly paid over to the selling company but was never accounted for to the HMRC, as it should have been.
“The close similarity in the trading pattern of each of these companies is relied on by the prosecution in support of its case that this was one conspiracy, albeit carried out using three different companies as vehicles for the fraud,” claimed Mr Lawson-Rogers.
Platinum is attractive to fraudsters as it is high value but easily transportable. “It generates a large amount of VAT and the only objective of this trading was to generate VAT to be stolen,” he claimed.
In the dock are ‘the controlling mind’ Mohammed Karim, 40, of Billinge End Road, Blackburn; Imran Bhatti, 38, of Brooklands Terrace, Blackburn; his brother Kamran Bhatti, 40, of Churchill Road, Blackburn; Raymond Bowden, 69, of Barrington Road, Altrincham, Cheshire and "financier" Raymond Mancini, 65, of Division Lane, Blackpool.
They all deny conspiracy to defraud between March 2006 and May 31, 2008.