Imran Yakub Ahmed from Preston, who now lives a life of luxury in Dubai, was under investigation by the UK authorities as early as 1998 over concerns about his links with members of the suspected network.
Ahmed attended the former St Thomas More School in Preston but has been living in Dubai for around four years.
Ahmed who now lives a life of luxury in Dubai, was under investigation by the UK authorities as early as 1998 over concerns about his links with members of the suspected network.
A decade later he would go on to be involved in what has been described as “the fraud of the century”.
In the early 2000s Ahmed set up a British company which started importing large volumes of mobile phones involving companies in Germany and Denmark.
By 2010, Ahmed was living in Dubai, and his office in the emirate became the base from which he masterminded a multimillion pound VAT fraud.
In November 2010, Ahmed traveled from Dubai to Bolton, was arrested for suspected money laundering by Greater Manchester Police, but he was released without charge and returned to Dubai.
Money leaving the UK and passing via a Norwegian businessman before being transferred to Pakistan, Hong Kong and Dubai.
Ahmed and another Preston man, Mohsin Salya, 40, steal hundreds of millions from European tax authorities in the space of just two years.
Investigators concluded that individuals had stolen vast sums of taxpayers’ money through a series of frauds across Europe.
Ahmed was convicted of involvement in one of these VAT frauds in Italy, for which he was given a suspended sentence.
He is now believed living a luxury life as a free man in Dubai. He’s believed to have bought two floors of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, and had business interests with an Emirati sheikh.
He still runs a multi-million pound property portfolio in the UK including retail centres in Preston and Salford, and at one time he owned at least 20 houses in Preston and Dewsbury. HMRC valued his known assets at more than £180m in 2011 but believed this to be an underestimation of his true wealth.
He was convicted by an Italian court in 2017 for his participation in a criminal conspiracy to steal VAT. The network was based in the north west of England and was under investigation for years.
Four Preston men are being investigated in Italy over an alleged £1.17bn tax scam. The men are part of a group of 38 people being investigated over defrauding the Italian state coffers out of more than a billion pounds in VAT.
Ahmed was included in an HMRC investigation into the criminal network which did not result in charges against him. He has never been charged in the UK.