A FATHER and daughter who were convicted of a £250,000 legal fraud scam have been ordered to pay back more than £1 million.
Mohammed Arshid Khatana (51), of Hawkswood Gardens, Brierfield, was jailed for eight and a half years after pleading guilty to 15 counts of fraud in September, 2012.
At Burnley Crown Court on Friday, the North West Regional Asset Recovery Team, a component of the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit (TITAN), was successful in an application to have the proceeds from his crimes confiscated.
It was accepted Khatana had benefited from his crime to the value of £1,356,259.70 and he was ordered to pay back the full amount within six months or face a further six years in prison and still owe the money on his release.
His daughter Mahria Khatana (25), also of Hawkswood Gardens, was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, which was suspended for 18 months after pleading guilty to four counts of fraud. She was given 250 hours community service.
She was also found to have benefited from her criminal activities to the amount of £146,800 and was ordered to pay £15,000 within six months or face nine months in prison.
The Khatanas were arrested after a three-year investigation by the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit and the Legal Services Commission, which uncovered their involvement in a large number of legal service frauds amounting to in excess of £250,000.
Inquiries into the Khatana’s two companies – POCA Consulting Ltd and Ultima Consulting – revealed that despite having no legal qualification or accreditation, he would offer legal representation to clients in proceeds of crime and other criminal matters. He would visit with the client and arrange to transfer their legal aid to a solicitors firm and would charge an average of £500 for the referral.
They were also found guilty of defrauding a 74-year-old man who was facing confiscation proceedings for money laundering. Mahria Khatana obtained quotes for legal representation from a barristers’ firm in London. She then doubled the quotes and inflated other items on the invoice leading to the charging of a £43,000 bill to the man – for a fee that should have cost less than £10,000.
Detective Chief Inspector Paula Parker, head of the North West Regional Asset Recovery Team said: “Khatana was a ruthless and serial fraudster who was prepared to use his daughter to steal from a wide range of people for his own gain. It was clear he was making a large profit by abusing the legal aid system.
“POCA seizures allow us to take back cash from offenders which they have amassed through their criminal behaviour. Khatana not only received a lengthy prison sentence, but he now has to face further consequences of his actions by repaying a huge amount of his ill gotten gains. I hope this sends out a warning, if you make your living from crime, you will be targeted.
“It is wrong that criminals should profit from their offending or live a lavish lifestyle that is funded by crime. We will do everything we can to investigate the finances of people who we believe have obtained their money illegally, and then work with the courts to remove negative role models from society and take their wealth off them.”