A hearing in Leeds Crown Court last week ended in disaster for Mr Mohammed Azam Yaqoob from Dewsbury when the Judge hearing the case ruled that the assets belonging to him were obtained through the profits of his illegal activities. He was thus ordered to hand back, to the National Crime Agency (NCA), close to £1 million.
Mr Yaqoob, who is 45 years old, was found guilty of money laundering after it was proved that he had ‘laundered’ the profits from the criminal activities of a convicted drugs trafficker. Her Honour Judge Cahill granted the NCA a Confiscation Order totalling £993,760.45 which Mr Yaqoob will have to meet in order to avoid facing a further four and half years in prison. Even if he did default on the payments to the NCA, he would still eventually have to pay, by which time a vast amount of interest may have accrued.
The investigation, led by the NCA, proved that Mr Yaqoob was one of six members forming an organised group who defrauded an insurance company of nearly £330,000. The scam was eventually discovered after Mr Nazim Ashiq, a convicted drugs trafficker, transferred over £300,000 into his own company. He sent a fax to a bank instructing them to transfer the money from HSB Engineering Ltd (an insurance company) to Zain Corporation UK (owned by Mr Ashiq). The fax was found to be a fake and then scam was soon uncovered.
Mr Yaqoob had received £115,000 of the funds obtained from the fraud and had begun to withdraw cash from his account before it was frozen. The NCA arrested and charged Mr Yaqoob, alongside three others, in 2007 in connection with fraud and money laundering offences. A financial investigation under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) was conducted alongside the criminal investigation following Mr Yaqoob’s arrest. The financial investigation, involving detailed analysis of all of Mr Yaqoob’s finances over the course of the six years leading up to his arrest, showed that he had used money obtained through illegal activity in order to fund his lifestyle.
Five other people were arrested in connection with the above scam, all but one of them received an immediate custodial sentence. An application made under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) can result in the confiscation or civil recovery of the proceeds from crime.
If you are currently subject of an application made under POCA, or believe that you will be, it is vital that you contact a member of the Serious Organised Crime unit of our highly experienced Criminal Defence team. Our crime line operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – please call 01254 606050 for immediate access to legal advice from a criminal lawyer or email us.