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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 May 2007, 13:01 GMT 14:01 UK
MP's son guilty of huge cash scam
Athif Sarwar
Athif Sarwar was found guilty of the complex cash scam
The son of millionaire businessman and Labour MP Mohammed Sarwar has been convicted of an 850,000 money laundering scam.

Glasgow High Court heard that cash and carry managing director Athif Sarwar, 28, had handled thousands of pounds of money described as "criminal property".

Father-of-two Sarwar, 28, of Lynebank Place, Mearnskirk, was found guilty of laundering various sums in 2003.

Sentence was deferred on Sarwar until June for background reports.

The offences took place between 24 February and 25 April 2003 when Sarwar was working at the United Wholesale (Scotland) Ltd, which has its headquarters at Maxwell Road, Glasgow.

His co-accused Mansoor Khan, 43, of Giffnock, Glasgow, who was the assistant manager of the cash and carry, was found not guilty of any involvement in the money laundering scam.

I am disappointed and I genuinely, sincerely and passionately believe that my son has done nothing wrong
Mohammed Sarwar

The court was told that Sarwar received cash which was described on the charge as "criminal property" by electronic transfer into the company's business account.

The money was then concealed, disguised, converted or transferred before it was transferred as either cash or goods to an unknown person.

Sarwar's father, who is the Labour MP for Govan and said to be worth an estimated 16m, was in court for the verdict.

Outside court, Mr Sarwar said that his son would be appealing against the conviction.

He added: "I am disappointed and I genuinely, sincerely and passionately believe that my son has done nothing wrong. Everything was legal and above board.

"We will contest the verdict. There was no shred of evidence to convict and we will appeal against the sentence. I am certain that justice will win."

Giving evidence during the trial, Athif Sarwar strongly disputed the Crown's allegations.

Flat out

In a taped police interview he said he would not risk damaging his father's high public profile.

Sarwar, who studied marketing at university, told his defence counsel Mike Jones QC that after taking over the new company he had put all his efforts into marketing it.

He said he left accounting and banking to those under him.

The prosecution claimed, however, that cash from six shell companies was laundered through Sarwar's cash and carry business.

The business split in 2002 from United Wholesalers Grocers Ltd, which was built up over 20 years by his grandfather, uncle, and his father.

Mobile phones

The court heard that a year after Athif Sarwar was appointed managing director of the new company the scam started.

The laundered cash came from the proceeds of a complex scam involving imported mobile phones.

A Customs and Revenue expert told the jury that similar scams called Missing Trader Intra-Community frauds (M-tic frauds) cost Government coffers about 2bn to 3bn a year in lost VAT.

Small items like mobile phones or computer chips come into the UK from Europe VAT free and are then passed through a number of companies specially set up for the scam.

Each claims input and output tax, the last one reclaiming VAT before finally disappearing with the cash.

A confiscation order was served on Sarwar but he was granted bail.

More details of the case

Open justice and the fair trial
08 Nov 06 |  Scotland
Six men arrested over 'abduction'
24 Oct 06 |  Glasgow and West

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