Four members of a UK-based gang that sent £26m of laundered money to Dubai by depositing cash at over 100 banks have been jailed for a total 22 years.

HMRC said in a statement on 22 February that an investigation found that members used seven different fake companies for fraud purposes, depositing criminal cash at banks a dozen times a day for nearly a year.

The men, led by Mohammed Zafer, travelled hundreds of miles to collect and deposit criminal cash at 100 banks from a base in Buckinghamshire.

They each acted as directors of seven different companies that were set up purely to launder money that’s believed to have been generated by alcohol duty fraud.

The gang created a false paperwork trail in a bid to legitimise the huge sums that was picked up by a network of cash couriers in just 11 months.

A staggering 2,376 deposits were made at more than 100 banks across 193 days between July 2015 and June 2016 – which averages at 12 deposits every single day.

Once the money was inside the UK banking system it was quickly transferred out of the jurisdiction and into banks in Dubai, where Mohammed Zafer had business interests.

Mohammed Zafer, 48, of Slough, and his cousin, Shehbaz Iqbal, 41, of Windsor, were convicted of money laundering offences, after a six-week trial at Reading Crown Court, which ended in December, 2023.

Four other men; Sarfraz Hussain, 45, of Manchester, Anthony Foster, 41, and Shakil Abbas, 37, both of Rochdale; along with Zorrabar Singh, 36, of Twickenham, admitted money laundering offences at Reading Crown Court in June 2022.

Matthew Moignard, operational lead, fraud investigation service, HMRC, said: “These sentences reflect the industrial scale of this criminal operation, which was led by Mohammed Zafer.

“Money laundering is not a victimless crime. It robs our public services of much needed money and it funds other organised criminality that harms our communities."

Kevin Hansford from the CPS Serious Economic Organised Crime and International Directorate (SEOCID) said: “These defendants used overseas bank accounts to transfer vast quantities of dirty money out of the UK and in doing so undermined the UK economy.

“Whenever our legal test is met, the CPS will always prosecute fraudsters such as those in this group and ensure they are held publicly accountable.

“In some cases we can go further with our Proceeds of Crime team recovering criminal assets so offenders do not financially benefit from their crimes.”

All six were sentenced to a total of 26 years and seven months yesterday, (February 21, 2024).

HMRC further said action to recover the money had been launched.