Assets worth £2.5m recovered from ex-boxer who committed VAT fraud
Assets worth more than £2.5 million have been recovered from a man linked to an extensive VAT fraud on a global scale.
Land, properties, bank accounts, jewellery and cash belonging to ex-boxer Ronnie Decker are among the assets being handed over to the Crown.
Decker, who is originally from Sierra Leone and was educated in Scotland, was linked to a scheme where VAT on bogus transactions was claimed back through former Glasgow-based firm Q-Tech Distribution Limited.
The Crown’s Civil Recovery Unit (CRU) secured forfeiture of the assets in April 2016 but Decker raised a legal challenge to keep some of the items.
The assets, held in various countries including France and Antigua, will now be handed over after the case settled out of court.
Diamonds and designer watches were sold at auction in London in December and raised more than £130,000.
Some of the assets included in the settlement with Decker include £82,000 found in cash in his house, more diamonds, a house valued at £380,000 and money from investments, bank accounts and a pension policy
The CRU has worked alongside HMRC and authorities across the globe to examine bank accounts and other assets held in multiple countries.
Head of CRU, Denise McKay, said: “Ronnie Decker set out to line his own pockets and deny the public purse of millions of pounds through a systematic abuse of the VAT repayments system.
“Uncovering the fraud involved a financial investigation that spanned the globe and required the cooperation of numerous agencies in many different countries.
“I am delighted that the case his settled and that money will finally benefit Scotland’s communities.”
Charlie Merrick, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “This was a complex and lengthy investigation, but we are committed to recovering money to fund the public purse and this result is testament to the strong partnership between HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service and the Civil Recovery Unit.
“We are dedicated to ensuring that those who owe money to HMRC pay in full.”
Q-Tech was set up in June 2000 and operated until May 2001, importing computer components from the Republic of Ireland.
In May 2001, the various assets belonging to the firm were frozen after its premises in Glasgow were searched by customs officers.
It was later discovered that Q-Tech made millions of pounds by claiming back VAT on false Europe-wide business transactions in a scam known as carousel fraud.
The firm and its sole director, Mohammed Sarfraz Sattar, were pursued under proceeds of crime legislation and both agreed to an out of court settlement of £1,271,842.
Another man, Michael Voudouri, from Bridge of Allan, also admitted claiming back VAT through Q-Tech. He is currently serving an 11-year jail term for money laundering and failing to appear for sentencing.
During the investigation, it was established that Decker was heavily involved in the VAT fraud and the subsequent laundering of the proceeds.