Two brothers have been sentenced to a combined 10 years in prison after making £340,000 in false Gift Aid repayment claims to HM Revenue & Customs.
Abu Talib Ghadiri, 35, an accountant, and his brother Mohsin Raza, 33, both from Harrow in north-west London, were sentenced at Harrow Crown Court on Friday to six years and four years in prison respectively for their parts in a Gift Aid fraud involving two charities. They had been found guilty of fraud at the same court in April.
HMRC said the two charities, called the Fatimiyya Trust and The Light, falsely claimed to promote education and the development of medical centres, and to help victims of natural disasters in Pakistan. Last year the two charities became the subject of statutory inquiries by the Charity Commission.
At the time, the commission said it was investigating "significant discrepancies" in the charities’ finances.
HMRC said on Friday that the two brothers submitted repayment claims listing donations from deceased taxpayers, sometimes months after their deaths, and used the details of ineligible taxpayers on forms to claim the Gift Aid repayments.
Ghadiri also submitted false VAT invoices worth £47,000 linked to seven fake companies, HMRC said.
HMRC said Ghadiri claimed an ex-girlfriend set up the companies and he was not involved, despite the companies being registered to his home address and his National Insurance number being connected to their accounts.
The ex-girlfriend told the court that Ghadiri controlled the companies and used her details to avoid being caught, HMRC said.
Martin Brown, assistant director of the Fraud Investigation Service at HMRC, said: "As an accountant, Ghadiri would have known the seriousness of committing Gift Aid and VAT fraud, but he carried on regardless and submitted false paperwork to substantiate his claims. These individuals stole money that should have been spent on vital public services, not used to line their own pockets – but they are now paying the price."