Moseley man jailed for tobacco fraud after 11 years on the run
Written by Tristan Harris on June 6, 2018
A FUGITIVE tobacco fraudster, formerly of Moseley, is now behind bars after 11 years on the run.
Multi-millionaire Hussain Asad Chohan was captured in Canada and owes more than £53million after fleeing the country in 2006 whilst standing trial for his role in tobacco smuggling.
Chohan was extradited from Canada by a team of specialist officers from HM Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC) Offender Management and Enforcement Team, with the assistance of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and Interpol.
He is now serving a 12-year prison sentence and must repay the £53million.
The 49-year-old fled to Pakistan, Dubai and finally Canada, where he lived under a new identity.
He fled to Lahore, Pakistan, in 2006 when he was on trial for smuggling 2.25tonnes illegal hand-rolling tobacco, worth £750,000 in evaded duty, into the UK in 2000. He was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison in his absence.
Chohan was also linked to a £185million VAT fraud involving phony companies set up to fraudulently reclaim VAT by faking the import and export of mobile phones and microchips.
Evidence was presented to a confiscation hearing in December 2006 of Chohan’s involvement in the VAT fraud as well as the tobacco smuggling. The court ruled Chohan’s lifestyle was funded by crime and ordered him to repay £28.6million within three months.
Chohan did not pay up so will serve an extra seven years in prison.
His debt, plus interest totalling more than £24million, remains and increases by more than £6,000 a day until paid.
Simon York, Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “Chohan thought he could avoid prison by fleeing the country and ran away to set up a new life for himself. But he couldn’t run forever and his criminal past eventually caught up with him.
“Running away from tax crime isn’t an option. We will relentlessly pursue fugitives who, like Chohan, think they can avoid paying for their crime. Our message is clear – nobody is beyond our reach.
“Tracking down fugitives like Chohan demonstrates how far HMRC’s work with law enforcement stretches across the globe.
Chohan has been brought back to face justice thanks to the work done here in the UK and abroad particularly by the Canadian Mounties.”
Chohan, who is thought to have used a number of aliases during his time on the run, was identified living under the false identity, Muhammad Afzal Khan, in Ottawa, and was tracked down by HMRC, working closely with the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency.
RCMP arrested Chohan at Toronto airport as he returned to Canada from the United Arab Emirates in September 2016. He was placed on remand at a correctional centre in Lindsay, Ontario, before being flown back to the UK.
He arrived back in the UK just before the weekend, accompanied by HMRC officers, before being taken to Birmingham Crown Court where his sentence was confirmed.
Chohan is the latest in a string of tax fugitives caught and returned to face UK justice, including Jamie and Brian Colwell, Mariusz Chorazy, Lieb Berger, Antonio De Sousa, Mbarak Gowie, Wayne Hardy, and Geoffrey Johnson.
Information about any type of tax fraud can be reported to HMRC online at https://www.gov.uk/report-an-unregistered-trader-or-business