Money launderers jailed after Barking traffic jam thwarts £6m scam

Asher Frank and Shazad Malik. Picture: HMRC.

Asher Frank and Shazad Malik. Picture: HMRC. - Credit: Archant

A money launderer and his accomplice, whose attempt to escape arrest was prevented by a traffic jam, have been jailed for eight and a half years.

Shazad Malik’s £5.9m scam unravelled when tax officials swooped on associate Asher Frank’s peugeot when it got stuck in traffic in Barking in July 2012.

Frank, 40, from Romford, was arrested and more than £70,000 in dirty money was discovered in the car.

Malik, 43, from Walthamstow, was sentenced to five-and-a-half years and Frank to three years at Southwark Crown Court last Thursday.

In their plot to launder millions Frank, 40, acted as courier, collecting cash from underworld associates and paying it into bank accounts controlled by Malik.

The 12-month scam unravelled when officials from Her majesty’s Revenue and Customs stopped Asher’s car.

Frank tried to flee the scene by driving at officers before speeding away – only to become trapped by heavy traffic.

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The runaway fraudster was arrested moments later.

Assistant director of HMRC’s fraud investigation service Paul Barton said: “This was an audacious attempt to launder the proceeds of crime.

“Malik and Frank believed they would go unnoticed moving large amounts of dirty cash around London and Essex. They were wrong, and today their greed has cost them their liberty.”

Just days before his arrest, Frank was observed by HMRC visiting criminal associates and paying in £360,000 in cash at the ‘quick drop’ facilities of banks in Barking, Dagenham and Romford.

During interview, Frank protested his innocence saying he was simply a courier and hadn’t stopped for HMRC because he believed he was being robbed. Meanwhile, enquiries linked a paying-in book, also found in Frank’s car, to an account held by Malik.

Malik failed to provide credible business records to show the £5.9m paid into his accounts came from legitimate trade.

Malik admitted the offence on the second day of the pair’s trial at Southwark Crown Court on October 18 2016.

Frank was found guilty on 27 October 2016.

Malik was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in prison and Frank to three years in prison by His Honour Judge Testar.