Property tycoon Nasrullah Khan who ran a money laundering service for organised crime gangs was jailed for 10 years.
The British pakistani had used his Cheetham Hill estate agency business as a front to launder hundreds of thousands of pounds of ‘dirty money’.
Fifty-one-year-old Khan acted as the head of a ‘slick and professional’ criminal enterprise which was caught with a quarter of a million pounds, a jury at Manchester Crown Court heard.
A wealthy property owner Khan a respected pillar of the Cheetham Hill community denied any part in the scam, but was found guilty of money laundering after a trial.
Police investigators have said that they believe that the gang was laundering up to £300,000 a week and over a considerable period of time.
Company manager, 46-year-old Fazal Hussain – described by the judge as the chief executive of the racket – was imprisoned for 7 years.
It is unlikely that the total money that was laundered will never be known because the gang covered their tracks by shredding many of their bank statement and records.
A courier Mark Owens, 28, had transported the dirty money from Liverpool to Manchester and delivered it for laundering, was jailed for three years. The court heard that Owens, a married father had been paid £500 for each trip.
The racket was raided by the Serious Organised Crime Agency in July 2008. Mark Connor, prosecuting the case, told the court that SOCA officers raided Khan Properties on July 15, and seized two bags containing a total of £250,000.
The court was shown CCTV images showing Hussain taking the bags into the property earlier that week. The jury were told that the gang had provided a ‘collect and deposit’ service to launder criminal cash – moving around cash in holdalls before splitting it into small amounts across third-party bank accounts. Evidence presented in court showed that in just three weeks the group deposited more than £970,000.
Hussain, of Woodlands Street, Cheetham, denied the same charge but was also found guilty by a jury. Owens, of Langley, Widnes, Cheshire, earlier admitted his part and pleaded guilty to entering into a money laundering agreement.
A further co-defendent, Muhammed Asifhad failed to attend the trial. He was convicted of money laundering and sentenced in his absence to three years. Police believe he has fled the country and returned to pakistan.
Benjamin Myers, defence barrister for Khan, told the judge: "There were significant sums being laundered, but the benefit to those doing the laundering would be relatively small. It is very easy for people to point to him as he’s the owner of the business and it’s all down to him. But he was not the sole architect."
The trial judge Roger Thomas said that Khan and Hussain were intelligent and hard-working men who had used their skills for ‘dishonest means’.
He added: "Without people such as you laundering the proceeds of crime, those who commit the crime would be less motivated to do it."
The Deputy Director of SOCA, Ian Cruxton, said: "We are determined to make life as difficult as possible for criminals and that means attacking their support networks as well."