Preston men wanted in connection with 1.17bn international scam

Two of the men wanted by Italian authorities. Left, Imran Yakub Ahmed, right, Adam Umerji
Two of the men wanted by Italian authorities. Left, Imran Yakub Ahmed, right, Adam Umerji
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Four Preston men are being investigated in Italy over an alleged £1.17bn tax scam.

The men are part of a group of 38 people being investigated over defrauding the Italian state coffers out of more than a billion pounds in VAT.

Power station

Power station

It is understood the probe is centred around 40-year-old Imran Yakub Ahmed, of Watling Street Road, 
Fulwood.

Documents seen by the Evening Post from the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Milan also name 36-year-old Adam Umerji - one of Lancashire’s most wanted criminals.

It is understood Ahmed and Umerji are both in Dubai.

Zubare Tailor, 32, of Victoria Mansions, off Navigation Way, and Sarfaraz Patel, 32, of Bullfinch Street, both Preston, are also wanted as part of the investigation.

The Evening Post understands Ahmed attended the former St Thomas More School in Preston but has been living in Dubai for around four years.

Yesterday we visited the 
address in Watling Street Road given for Ahmed by the authorities in Italy, but were told nobody with that name lives there.

There was no answer at the address in Bullfinch Street given for Patel or the address given for Tailor in Navigation Way.

The Home Office said the investigation lies in the hands of the Italian authorities while HMRC said it was unable to comment on individuals. Lancashire Police are not involved in the investigation, a spokesman said.

The cash was allegedly laundered through slush funds and investments in Dubai.

The investigation is centred around Ahmed who, according to court papers, is understood to have administered the SF Energy Trading company in Milan.

SF Energy Trading and another Italian firm reportedly bought and sold carbon credits, which were traded between firms and states to meet their international environmental commitments.

It is claimed the two companies in Italy were linked to an Anglo-Pakistani and a Franco-Israeli criminal organization, which used foreigners’ stolen identities and ties to dummy corporations in China to run the scam.

The carbon certificates were bought in France, Germany, Holland and the UK, then sold on to customers with an added 20 per cent VAT fee.

The Italian tax was never paid to authorities, but was instead transferred to bank accounts in Cyprus and Hong Kong before ending up in 
Dubai.

Investigators discovered that the funds had been reinvested into diamonds and property development in Dubai as well as in two luxury watches bought in Rome for 50,000 Euros (£39,000) each, it has been reported.

Of more than a billion euros stolen from the state between 2009 and 2012, just €80 million Euros has been reclaimed by Italian authorities, Italian media said. Documents from the Court of Milan name a total of 38 people who are being investigated.

The men are from places including: Milan, Naples, Pakistan, London, Birmingham, Manchester, France and Morocco.

Carbon credits: what they are

A carbon credit is a certificate or permit for companies which represent the right to emit one tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2) and they can be traded for money.

Carbon credits can be sold and traded legitimately and there are many reputable firms operating in the sector.

There are two categories of carbon credits: voluntary emission reductions (VERs) and certified emission reductions (CERs).

Investors are usually cold called by salespeople promoting carbon credits, but contact can also come by email, post, word of mouth or at a seminar or exhibition. People may be offered carbon credit certificates, or an opportunity to invest directly in a ’green‘ scheme or project that generates carbon credits as a return on investment.

The caller may claim carbon credits are ‘the new big thing’ in commodity trading, industries now have to off-set their emissions, the government is focusing on green developments or that it is an ever growing market.