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Pinner fraudster Rajesh Gathani has prison sentence cut
A criminal who played a major role in a massive £100 million VAT fraud plot yesterday had his "excessive" prison sentence cut on appeal.
Rajesh Gathani, 47, of Lime Tree Court, Pinner, Middlesex, was jailed for eight years after admitting conspiracy to cheat the public revenue in February last year.
But after an appeal, Lord Justice Richards today cut Gathani's sentence to seven years, noting that he was the least culpable of the conspirators.
The two men at the heart of the plot, Dilawar Ravjani, 35, and Tamraz Mohammed Riaz, 36, were convicted of conspiracy to cheat the public revenue at Kingston Crown Court in June last year.
The ringleader, Ravjani, of Uxbridge Road, Stanmore, Middlesex, was jailed for 17 years, and Riaz, of Plumpton Road, Wakefield, Yorkshire, sentenced to 13 years' imprisonment.
They appealed against their convictions and sentences at the same time as Gathani, but saw their cases rejected when the appeal judge delivered his ruling today.
The judge, sitting with Mr Justice Sweeney and Mr Justice Stuart-Smith, said the crown court judge concluded that Ravjani "devised, organised and personally directed" the fraud.
The so-called "missing trader" scam involved the import and export of vast numbers of mobile phones, with fraudulent claims made for repayment of VAT.
Referring to Ravjani, he continued: "His role was fundamental and he was highly culpable in instituting and carrying out, over a lengthy period, a fraud of exceptional seriousness.
"The sentence had to punish for his offending and discourage others from operating such schemes."
Riaz had played "an active and continuous role" in organising and carrying out the fraud and was considered by the trial judge to have been the right-hand man.
"Whilst the evidence against Riaz was more limited than the evidence against Dilawar Ravjani, there was no doubt that he had initiated and directed deals in the same way," he said.
But Gathani was in a different position, the judge continued. He was the least culpable of those jailed for the conspiracy and deserved credit for pleading guilty, justifying his sentence being cut to seven years.
Roshan Ara Hussain, 42, of Parkside, Dollis Hill, northwest London, was jailed for 12 months after she was found guilty of doing an act tending and intended to pervert the course of justice.
The judges gave her permission to appeal against her conviction at a later hearing, when the Court of Appeal will also consider the length of her sentence.
Marshall Boston, 46, of Hugo Way, Loggerheads, Market Drayton, Shropshire, got two years after admitting being knowingly concerned in VAT evasion.
He appealed against his sentence, but had his case rejected by the three judges yesterday.