Aqeel Khan, 38, from Clayton, acted as a “go-to man” for criminals across the North of England, using his profits to buy a fleet of luxury sports cars and property across West Yorkshire, according to the National Crime Agency.
One of his investments included the former tramshed premises at Thornbury, Bradford, a well-known local landmark which he bought for £2.5 million in 2011 and claimed he would turn into a retail park.
His network included his brother, Atique Anwar Khan, 34, who controlled and co-ordinated the distribution of cash into third party bank accounts.
Aqeel’s employee Mohammed Zulqurnain, 36, laundered money through his accounts and had property assets put into his name. while associate Ajib Khan, 34, previously convicted of supplying class A drugs, also admitted laundering money into property. Almost £100,000 of cash contaminated with drugs was seized from Ajib’s home address.
In total the group had £10 million pounds of property assets, the funding for which had come largely from cash laundered through multiple bank accounts to try and conceal its source.
Aqeel and Zulqurnain also used insurance brokers as fronts for their criminal scheme, obtaining finance from legitimate financial institutions for non-existent or vastly inflated insurance policies. The money was then used to fund property purchases or Aqeel’s lifestyle.
All four men pleaded guilty to money laundering charges, with Aqeel and Zulqurnain also admitting fraud offences and Aqeel pleading guilty to possessing forged bank document and contempt of court charges.
Today a judge at Leeds Crown Court sentenced Aqeel to six years in prison. Zulqurnain, of Whetley Hill, Bradford, was handed a two-and-a-half year jail sentence while Ajib, of Heath Road, Bradford, and Atique, of Ewart Street, Bradford, got two year and six month suspended sentences respectively.
David Norris, a branch commander for the National Crime Agency, said: “Aqeel Khan presented himself as a successful and wealthy businessman and property developer.
“In reality this was all a front and he was the head of a large-scale, sophisticated money laundering operation .
“He was also defrauding financial institutions out of millions of pounds and using the profits to fund his own lavish lifestyle.
“Organised criminals need people who can launder their cash to make it look legitimate and this group provided that service on an industrial scale.”
A photo released by the National Crime Agency shows a Lamborghini, Aston Martin and Range Rover belonging to Aqeel, of Upper Penny Hill Barn, Lane End, Clayton.
When his firm Roadside Retail paid £2.5 million for the former former tramshed premises at Thornbury, Bradford, it was reported that it was planning to develop a new retail park with units at affordable rents.
By that stage the firm had acquired five sites in the UK, including a roadside site in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, and sites in Liverpool and Worksop, and planned to create more than 250,000 sq ft of retail space.