19 November 2007
Bosses punished in fraud case
The bosses of a £92 million newsagent and garage chain who funnelled part of their income through a west Manchester charity have been jailed.
Mustaq, Iqbal and Mubarakali Patel, the three brothers who ran Aleef Garages, were each handed three-year sentences after using the Great Lever Muslim Society in Bolton as a front.
They have also been ordered to pay back £5 million of undeclared cash, £500,000 legal costs and are banned from being company directors for a decade.
The five-year investigation into the brothers discovered they had been using the undeclared income to fund their lavish lifestyles. Some of the money was transferred to personal accounts in the Channel Islands.
Steve Armitt, who led the customs and revenue investigation, said: "The investigation was made all the more difficult because of the closed ranks of the employees.
"It was cheating on a grand scale. Those involved tried to make it as difficult as possible for the cheating to be discovered."
The Charity Commission has now been called in to assess whether or not the Great Lever Muslim Society has capable trustees.