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Gloucestershire Business News

Cheltenham garage owner jailed for defrauding creditors of more than £1m

Shahzad Tafseer (41), from Birmingham, appeared at Birmingham Crown Court last Friday (May 1) where he was sentenced to four years imprisonment.

Stock image: petrol pump

His brother, Sajid Asif Ali (35), also from Birmingham, was sentenced to 2 years, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to complete 160 hours of unpaid work.

The court heard that Shahzad Tafseer was made bankrupt in June 2005 and after that, he used an alias name - Adam Ali Reiss - when he registered as a director of two different companies: Swift 4U Limited and Swift Services 4U Ltd.

Shahzad Tafseer's brother, Sajid Ali, joined him as a registered director and the two companies operated petrol garages and the connected forecourts across the Midlands and Cheltenham.

In October 2011 Shahzad Tafseer's alias was subject to bankruptcy proceedings and Birmingham County Court adjudicated Adam Ali Reiss as a bankrupt in April 2012.

Shahzad Tafseer's resigned his alias as a director of one of the petrol garage companies but it took him six months before he properly engaged with the Official Receiver dealing with Adam Ali Reiss' bankruptcy.

Throughout his dealings with the Official Receiver, all while being aware of the consequences of not conveying the full truth, Shahzad Tafseer did not reveal the real identity of Adam Ali Reiss.

Shahzad Tafseer also signed documents - witnessed by his brother Sajid Ali - setting out the bankruptcy restrictions, which included being banned from acting as a company director.

He sustained the ruse that he was Adam Ali Reiss and, despite being banned, continued to act as a director of one of the petrol garage companies. He signed accounts, corresponded with solicitors and signed leases for a commercial property in Banbury and another in Lancaster.

By February 2014, Swift 4U Limited and Swift Services 4U Ltd entered into liquidation and the true extent of Shahzad Tafseer's misconduct was discovered.

Engaging with other government departments and an optician, investigators from the Insolvency Service were able to determine that Shahzad Tafseer and Adam Ali Reiss was the same person.

Investigators also established that Shahzad Tafseer and Sajid Ali shared documents with their banks to secure more than £1.6 million worth of loans, but the documents submitted in support of those loans were falsified.

At an earlier hearing on 31 May 2019, Shahzad Tafseer pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud by false representation and two counts of acting as a company director while being an undischarged bankrupt. He also pleaded guilty to one count each of making or supplying articles for use in fraud, conspiracy to defraud and perjury.

Sajid Ali pleaded guilty at a hearing on 18 November 2019 to one count of conspiracy to defraud creditors of Swift 4U Ltd, Swift Services 4U Ltd and Kaleidoscope Retail Ltd of amounts in excess of £1 million.

Arwel Jones, legal director for the Insolvency Service, said: "For a number of years Shahzad Tafseer fraudulently operated under a different name to run petrol garages and secure significant loans from the banks. Even when the Official Receiver dealt with him to manage his alias' bankruptcy, he still didn't confirm his true identity.

"He didn't act alone and for a significant period of time he was supported by his brother who knew his brother was a disqualified director, yet still assisted him in the running of those businesses knowing that significant debts had been accrued.

"The courts have recognised the severity of their actions in passing the sentence and this should serve as a stark warning to other directors of their responsibilities while managing limited companies."

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