2 Feb 2015

Ex-magistrate jailed for tax and benefits frauds

A disgraced former magistrate who lived a life of luxury on the proceeds of tax fraud and money laundering has been jailed.

Zaher Somani, a former magistrate in Loughborough, built up a huge property portfolio, sent his children to private schools and frequented casinos on the back of his crimes.

However, HMRC investigators unmasked him as a tax evader and he appeared at Nottingham Crown Court to be jailed for three-and-a-half years.

Four co-conspirators, including his wife, appeared alongside the 58-year-old and were all given suspended prison sentences.

The court heard Somani, of White Street, Quorn, committed the offences while he was the owner of two Loughborough taxi companies, A1 and Charnwood Taxis, which operated 30 private hire vehicles. HMRC investigators found between 2004 and 2011, he concealed his true income on self-assessment tax returns. The scale of the fraud was estimated at £250,000.

Family members helped hide his firms’ earnings by using bank accounts and assets in Jersey, Canada, India, Turkey and Morocco.

Somani’s wife Ashraf (43), brother Pyarali (61), sister-in-law Shabina (50) and officer manager Darren Green (44) were also sentenced for their part in the conspiracy.

Sentencing, Judge Sampson said:
Zaher Somani lied to the bitter end and has been shamed and disgraced. The offending spanned many years while sitting as a magistrate, pretending to be a man of integrity and honesty. The hypocrisy could not have been greater.
Stuart Taylor, assistant director of criminal investigation at HMRC, said:
Zaher Somani was a serving magistrate at the time of these offences, a man supposed to uphold the law. Instead, he was stealing from the taxpayer. This man and his family lived well beyond their legitimate means, until HMRC uncovered their extensive tax evasion, associated money laundering and benefit fraud. Somani and his family failed to pay their full taxes, at the expense of honest taxpayers.
Zaher’s wife, Ashraf Somani, 44, also of White Street, Quorn, was sentenced to 15 months in prison, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to complete 300 hours of unpaid work. Along with her husband, she admitted tax evasion totalling £250,000 for self assessment income tax fraud, unpaid VAT and tax credits fraud.

Zaher’s brother, Pyarali Somani (61), of Mayo Close, Loughborough, worked as a taxi driver for both companies. He was sentenced to 15 months in prison, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to complete 300 hours of unpaid work. He admitted self assessment income tax fraud and tax credits fraud totalling £60,000.

Pyarali’s wife, Shabina Somani (51), also of Mayo Close, was sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for 18 months. She was ordered to complete 300 hours of unpaid work. She admitted tax credits fraud jointly with her husband totalling £16,049.

Taxi driver Darren Green (43), of Beaumanor Road, Leicester, was sentenced to 10 months in prison, suspended for 18 months, and given a nine-month supervision order. He admitted income tax fraud and fraudulently claiming tax credits worth £11,229 and involvement in tax evasion totalling £250,000.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is wonderful news! Where I work, the Fraud team say 'we cant do anything about taxi drivers'. This shows they could.