MANCHESTER: A ‘highly trusted player’ in a £3.5 million money laundering racket ran the international operation from a flat in Levenshulme. Jamshed Bhatti, 60, who is on the run, claimed he was living ‘hand to mouth’ from the flat on Stockport Road.
In fact handwritten records showed that almost £3.5 million had passed through his hands in the three months prior to a search of his property.
According to ‘Manchester Online’, police also found more than £50,000 in cash there. Bhatti didn’t have a job, and hadn’t paid income tax since 2006. But officers found a staggering amount of money had passed through him, to help criminals launder their dirty money.
A judge said Bhatti had ‘no remotely credible explanation’ for being in possession of the cash, the ledgers or bank transfer and deposit slips recovered. His records contained more than 1,500 incoming and outgoing amounts of cash, rising from £1,000 to £160,000. The records contained no detail of where the money came from, or where it went.
Manchester Crown Court heard how one of Bhatti’s money laundering schemes involved hijacking legitimate payments made by a legitimate business without their knowledge. The court heard that huge cash sums were also transferred through and held in high street banks across Greater Manchester.
Bhatti told investigators from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs that that the money originated from his import and export business, J&F Traders Ltd, a company which he said facilitated trade between Pakistan and the UK.
But no records of the business could be found, with no VAT registration or any tax returns being recovered. Bhatti also told police that he wasn’t a money launderer, and that the money had come from abroad and may be used as an investment for his son, or for a wedding.
He fled the country and absconded to Pakistan. Bhatti was convicted of money laundering in his absence. Sentencing was adjourned for 28 days to give Bhatti the opportunity to return if he wished, but Judge Hilary Manley passed sentence without him. The judge jailed Bhatti for six-and-a-half years. A warrant is out for his arrest.
Tony Capon, assistant director of HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service, said:”Bhatti will be jailed if he steps foot in the UK and we would appeal for anyone with information about his whereabouts to get in touch”.