UK lawyer in £8m fraud

An English lawyer has been sentenced to five years for his involvement in one of the UK’s largest money laundering scams associated with a solicitor.

Partner Paul Morris laundered £8m of a £38m VAT fraud through an account in Spain, an investment vehicle in the US and cars and property purchased in the UK.

Morris’s lawyer, Michael Kenyon of Manchester firm Burton Copeland, is considering an appeal. Confiscation proceedings against Morris are due to take place soon. They will be limited to the confiscation of retained assets or those easily attained, rather than already spent assets stemming from the fraud.

The money put in Morris’s client account at his firm AH Brooks, based in Leek, Staffordshire, arose from a complex carousel fraud involving mobile phones. It involved a front company called Viltern, which was directed by Raymond Woolley, a businessman who had previously pleaded guilty to laundering-related charges. The company imported some £100m worth of mobile phones from Ireland and elsewhere in the EU.

The phones went through a complex web of companies owned by legitimate and fraudulent operations. Certain companies, having not paid tax, would pass ownership to other ones that would then reclaim VAT. Although some VAT was paid to importers and phones were sold at a low price, the fraudsters managed to make magnificent profits, some of which was sent through Morris’s accounts.