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Fraudster ordered to pay £37 million

|News, Fraud and economic crime

A high level fraudster who skipped his trial and fled to Dubai has been ordered to pay more than £37 million - and faces 10 years in prison if he fails to pay.

Adam Umerji, 43, was convicted in his absence of offences of conspiracy to cheat the government’s revenue (HMRC) and conspiracy to transfer criminal property, in a prosecution conducted by the CPS Specialist Fraud Division after a complex criminal investigation by HMRC.

Umerji played a major role in this missing trader fraud, which involves the theft of Value Added Tax from the government. He was part of a conspiracy to use a network of companies and a huge number of transactions to cover up the theft of VAT. The term "missing trader" is used because the fraudster has gone missing with the VAT.

Umerji attempted to challenge the initial conviction on technical grounds again but failed to do so. The CPS successfully resisted the appeal. The CPS Proceeds of Crime Division applied to have the confiscation heard in his absence and the judge in this case accepted CPS arguments because all reasonable steps had been taken to make him aware of the hearing and it was appropriate and fair to proceed in his absence.

Umerji has been issued with a confiscation order of £37,667,622.

Manjula Nayee, Specialist Prosecutor in CPS Proceeds of Crime Division, said: “Despite Umerji being absent at the hearing, it is important to deprive him of money gained from illegal practices. Umerji has defrauded the taxpayer of over £37 million - money that could be spent on the doctors, nurses, police officers and other vital public services.

“This is one of our largest ever confiscation orders and demonstrates where we can take money from people who have profited from crime, we will not hesitate to do so.”

“In 2019/20, the CPS recovered over £100 million, stopping hundreds of criminals benefiting from their ill-gotten gains.”

Notes to editors

  • Adam Umerji (DOB: 26/03/1978) was found guilty of conspiracy to cheat the revenue and money laundering
  • Manjula Nayee is a Specialist Prosecutor for CPS Proceeds of Crime (CPS POC), which is a specialist division dedicated to asset recovery
  • CPS applied for section 27 of the Proceeds of Crime Act which allows for a confiscation hearing to happen in the absence of a defendant
  • Where a defendant refuses to pay their Confiscation Order in a timely way, CPS Proceeds of Crime can invite the court to impose an additional default sentence on them of up to 14 years' imprisonment. The full debt continues to be in force until it is paid and interest is charged against it at 8% (the civil judgement debt rate).

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