Launderette owner laundered money

A launderette owner has been jailed as part of a gang which ran a £750,000 VAT fraud and money-laundering scam. Basharat Sajawal, who ran a launderette in St Leonard's Road, Clarendon Park, Leicester, was one of four people involved in the plot, which saw them set up several fictitious companies.

They sent in fake invoices and VAT returns to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) before taking a cut of the illegally-acquired financial benefits. Sajawal (39), of South Knighton Road, Knighton, Leicester, was described at the Old Bailey as the "money mule" who helped facilitate the fraud by travelling to London to collect the cash.

Jailing him for nine months, Judge Paul Worsley told Sajawal: "You were a shadowy influence who fell to the lure of easy money. This was a sophisticated fraud in which you all played your part." Sajawal pleaded guilty to conspiracy to cheat the public revenue.

Martin Brown, assistant director of criminal investigation for HMRC, said the scam was a "major conspiracy" designed to steal money from the economy and taxpayer. "The gang designed the fraud with various layers in an attempt to conceal the crime and avoid detection," he said.