Sarwar's son wins fraud case appeal

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The Independent Online

The son of former Labour MP Mohammad Sarwar had his conviction for laundering nearly £850,000 quashed by appeal judges today.

Athif Sarwar, 32, was jailed for three years in June 2007 after being found guilty of processing VAT frauds worth £845,137.

Mr Sarwar, of Mearnskirk on the outskirts of Glasgow, maintained he was innocent of the crime and was subsequently freed from custody pending the outcome of his appeal against conviction.

Today, three senior judges at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh ruled he had suffered a miscarriage of justice and his conviction should be overturned.

Athif Sarwar had denied the two charges against him but was found guilty after a six-week trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

He was convicted of laundering the money from six companies into United Wholesale (Scotland) Ltd at Maxwell Road in Glasgow between February 24 and April 25 2003.

He was managing director of the wholesale business, having been appointed to the role at the age of 21.

Prosecutors at the trial said Mr Sarwar or his business were in line to benefit from a 10% commission for processing the six-figure sum, described in court as criminal property.

The case against him followed an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

After sentencing, Mohammad Sarwar - who stepped down as MP for Glasgow Central at the last election - gave an impassioned defence of his son.

He said: "I believe that my son is innocent. There's no shred of evidence against him.

"He will be exonerated - justice will win and prejudice will fail."

More than three years after he made those comments, appeal judges quashed his son's convictions on both of the charges against him.

The Lord Justice General, Lord Hamilton, sitting with Lords Osborne and Eassie, found there was a lack of evidence to link Mr Sarwar to the alleged crime.

They said in a written judgment: "The verdict of the trial court will be set aside and the conviction on each of the charges quashed."

In doing so, they said that defence claims that there was no case to answer - made at the end of the Crown case in the trial - should have been upheld in relation to one charge.

They further quashed Mr Sarwar's conviction on the second charge against him, saying: "We are persuaded that the appellant suffered a miscarriage of justice also in respect of charge two."

Mr Sarwar was accused along with Mansoor Khan, of Giffnock, East Renfrewshire, who was assistant manager of United Wholesale.

Mr Khan was cleared of the money-laundering charges.