An SFO case, accepted for investigation in September 1994, resulted in five defendants sentenced to a total of 9 years and three months. One defendant, Shariq Chughtai (66), former shadow Director of BT Imports Ltd, A&D Supplies (Portsmouth) Ltd and Teamleader Ltd, pleaded guilty on 27 July 1998 to two offences of conspiracy to defraud. He was bailed pending the trial of co-defendants but subsequently failed to appear for sentencing on 9 December 1998. That hearing was adjourned and he again failed to attend court on 19 February 1999 when he was sentenced, in his absence, to 4 years’ imprisonment.
The case centred on three long firm frauds. This is where criminals place lots of small orders with wholesalers and pay them promptly. Having established a good credit history and won the trust of their suppliers, the fraudsters then place several larger orders with their suppliers. But once they receive the goods, they promptly disappear and sell the goods elsewhere.
Mr Chughtai was located in the US and an extradition request was sent in late 2015, by the SFO. Mr Chughtai arrived in the UK on 8 September 2016 and was produced at Portsmouth Crown Court where he was sent to prison to serve his 4 year sentence for two counts of conspiracy to defraud. The judge passed a consecutive sentence of three months for a Bail Act offence.
The SFO is grateful for the assistance of the Home Office, Hampshire Constabulary, US Marshals and the Department of Justice.