A jeweller who evaded more than £7m VAT by smuggling gold from Dubai into the UK has been jailed for nine years.
Chaudry Ali, 50, of Hillingdon, London, had two couriers working for him, who he sent individually to Dubai to collect large amounts of gold jewellery from vendors.
He was caught following an international investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), a statement on its website said.
The gold was bought in Dubai and brought into the country via Frankfurt to avoid VAT payments over a two-year period.
The courier would fly from Dubai to Frankfurt, and meet Ali in an airside lounge. They would then swap cases, and Ali would pick up the case containing the gold jewellery.
Ali would then take a flight back to the UK, passing through the EU entry channel at UK arrivals.
He carried paperwork stating that he was a legitimate VAT-registered jewellery trader in case he was stopped at customs.
Goods traded between EU countries are not subject to VAT, so by appearing to have sourced the gold in Frankfurt, Ali would appear to have no tax to pay.
Andrew Sackey, assistant director, Criminal Investigation for HMRC, said: “Chaudry Ali was a 24-carat criminal. He systematically evaded millions of pounds of VAT in the hope of lining his pockets. Our officers worked tirelessly to catch him, and today’s sentence is the result of that hard work.”
HMRC said it will now be taking confiscation action to recover proceeds from this crime.