The palace tax evasion built – fraudster hid true wealth in Birmingham as he developed £2.3m estate in Pakistan
A tax fraudster who hid his true wealth in the UK has been jailed for four years after police discovered he was building a £2.3 million ‘PALACE’ abroad.
Mohammed Suleman Khan, 42, lived a luxury life in Birmingham despite no obvious income.
But he was handling huge amounts of undeclared cash and defrauded the taxman by almost £500,000.
His nine-year scam was exposed after police raided his Moseley home and discovered plans for his own ‘Buckingham Palace’ in Pakistan, complete with library, private cinema and servant quarters.
Mohammed Suleman Khan lived in a gated £500,000 house in Moseley and drove a sporty BMW – but wore tracksuits and had no obvious job.
Yet Khan, 42, appeared to have next to nothing on paper.
His family home belonged to relatives and only small amounts of money went through his bank accounts.
But while he was careful to avoid showing any trappings of wealth in the UK, he was not so careful abroad.
Detectives investigating his lifestyle discovered he had secretly paid for a £2.3 million mansion to be built in Pakistan – complete with library, private cinema, and servant quarters.
In fact, the luxury home was so extraordinary a judge described it as Khan’s very own Buckingham Palace as he sentenced the tax fraudster to four years jail for cheating the public purse out of almost £450,000 over nine years.
The astonishingly complex case was successfully brought by officers from West Midlands Police’s Force CID.
Acting Detective Chief Inspector Andy Bannister led the dedicated team which uncovered Khan’s complicated tax fraud.
He was arrested in May 2011. In court, his defence portrayed him as a legitimate businessman who had earned around £400,000 over the nine-year period from debt collecting and other business interests in the UK and abroad.
Police found no evidence of a legitimate debt collecting company and a painstaking investigation proved he had actually netted well over £1 million during that period, without paying the required tax and National Insurance.
Officers found evidence of huge cash amounts coming into the possession of Khan.
It was discovered on one occasion he had £120,000 in cash in his possession. The tax fraud evidence included 13 banknote wraps, each marked with ‘£1,000’, while it was also discovered he had paid for cars in cash, including £22,000 for a black BMW.
DCI Bannister said: “We disputed the amounts earned. Our research was not able to find any business he controlled or owned that was consistent with him being a debt collector within the community.
“We were effectively prosecuting someone based on the evidence about lifestyle and property without having easily obtained evidence.’’ A search of Khan’s Birmingham home after his arrest uncovered plans for the ‘palace’ in the Attock region of Pakistan.
With no jurisdiction in that country, detectives used the plans and a Google Earth photo and other evidence to show the sprawling scale of the building and got experts to value it.
The outer shell and roof of the building had been completed by Khan at a cost of £893,000. If completed – detectives were never able to see inside – the property would have valued at £2.3 million.
One of the biggest obstacles police faced was the complete lack of co-operation from Khan. He did not utter a single word during his police interview or court appearances, aside from ‘guilty’.
The reluctance to explain his finances even extended to his own defence team, who had to base their mitigation on information gathered by the police and analysed by their own forensic accountant.
They claimed Khan was a legitimate businessman and debt collector who had earned £400,000 over the nine years, running from 2002 to 2011.
But police, using the Joseph Rowntree Foundation cost of living index, showed he would have needed to earn a minimum of £300,000 to fund him and his family’s life in the UK alone. Over the nine years, the investigation concluded he had pocketed £1,193,000, a combination of the £300,000 and the £893,000 definitely known to have been invested in the Pakistan property.
The tax and national insurance owed on that sum was £445,264.
Khan had pleaded guilty to cheating the public revenue at an appearance at Birmingham Crown Court in November 2013.
Yet it was only at a Newton hearing – held last week to determine the level of the tax fraud – that the crook was finally sentenced.
His honour Judge Andrew Menary QC agreed Khan was living beyond legitimate means, the most obvious evidence of that being his Pakistan property. He said: “It is enormous… with dozens of rooms, a library, servant quarter, cinema, underground parking and guard rooms. It is the size of Buckingham Palace.’’
Police said they hope the sentence will reverberate around the criminal fraternity.
Senior Investigating Officer DCI Bannister said: “The sentence handed out sends a clear message to all members of the community that evasion of tax and National Insurance are serious criminal offences.
“No matter your standing within the community, police and other agencies such as Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs will seek to investigate and where appropriate prosecute individuals who are perceived or seen to be living a lifestyle or own property inconsistent with legitimately earned income.’’
Chief Superintendent Alex Murray, responsible for policing in east Birmingham, said: “The joint action taken by police and HM Revenue and Customs proves that where communities trust local officers and confide in them, we are able to piece that information together and where appropriate launch an investigation.
“This may take time but we will always seek to bring to justice those who don’t operate within the law.
“The message from West Midlands Police is that we will stop you, whether that is through criminal law, through Revenue and Customs, the Department for Work and Pensions or others. Communities are fed up of people thinking they are above the law and are increasingly standing up to be counted.”
A proceeds of crime investigation is now underway against Khan and set to be concluded next year.
It is expected the West Midlands force will seek to retrieve more than £1 million from elusive Khan, meaning the tax fraudster may indeed be living a very modest lifestyle by the time he completes his prison sentence.