Aram Sheibani, 40, of Delemar Road in Bowden was sentenced at Manchester’s Crown Square Crown Court after being convicted of a total of 20 fraud, money laundering and drug offenses.
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The court heard how Sheibani was involved in high-level crime that allowed him to build up inexplicable wealth, including a portfolio of properties worth around five million pounds. He spent a number of years buying, mortgaging and selling properties in the UK and Spain, which the court said was an attempt to complicate and prevent law enforcement and other agencies to fully understand the basis of this wealth.
Evidence shows Sheibani obtained property by fraud, posing as a legitimate businessman while falsifying his income to facilitate new borrowing. The income recorded for Sheibani shows that his tax records are incomplete with a number of years he failed to file an income tax return or report income, profits or capital gains resulting in no proof of legitimate income to legally explain the amount of cash he acquired.
He produced false documents in support of his declared false income, documents containing forged bank statements, payslips and P60s.
The financial investigation of Sheibani’s bank accounts shows that the majority of his wealth comes from cash deposits and money transfers abroad, and that he has received credits from third parties. Evidence shows that Sheibani used third parties in the purchase of a number of properties which were then transferred to him for no monetary consideration, which the court accepts as a technique used by Sheibani to wipe out his tainted wealth and disguise his involvement in this money laundering.
In April 2019, warrants were executed at a number of Sheibani-linked addresses in Manchester and London and he was arrested on suspicion of money laundering and fraud.
When police arrived, Sheibani attempted to delay police efforts to secure access to his apartment by refusing to answer the door as he attempted to destroy evidence. The police were finally able to gain access by forcing her into the apartment through a common door. As the police escorted Sheibani out of the building, he shouted at his girlfriend “don’t tell them, don’t comment.”
A safe was recovered from the property which contained over £ 160,000 in cash, a number of security deposit keys, cryptocurrency recovery codes and cocaine. A Porsche Panemera, valued at £ 24,000, was also recovered and further searches of the apartment uncovered a number of cellphones, including two encrusted phones with military-grade encryption to prevent access unauthorized to data stored on devices.
Two of those phones – one of which was one of the inked phones – were found smashed and submerged in the toilet during Sheibani’s attempt to destroy evidence.
Excavations of his other properties and safes also uncovered cash machines, various amounts of foreign currency, an encrypted iron USB stick – designed to be completely tamper-proof, a number of electronic devices, a quantity substantial class A and B drugs, including cocaine, ketamine and ecstasy, and a number of original works of art – including those by artists such as Banksy and Andy Warhol – which were subsequently obtained by illegitimate means.
Overall, these warrants recovered £ 1.2million, property valued at £ 5million and cryptocurrency valued at £ 1.5million .
During the interview with the police, Sheibani was asked for the PIN codes and passwords of the recovered encrypted electronic devices and the iron USB stick, but he refused to provide them, even when he received a court order asking him to disclose this information.
The court received evidence that police were able to recover from a number of other electronic devices, bank statements and online shopping accounts from Sheibani, as well as to hear how he had previously been the subject of two stopovers at the airport on his return from Ibiza, resulting in the seizure of more than £ 42,000 in cash. The court accepted this evidence as confirmation of Sheibani’s involvement in a conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.
He was sentenced today to 34 years on the charges and an additional three years to be served consecutively after failing to provide passwords for his devices.
Sergeant Lucy Pearson, of GMP’s Economic Crime Unit, said: “Sheibani is a calculated, deceptive and scheming criminal who believes he is above the law. His greed shows no bounds and he has funded his luxury materialistic lifestyle with fraud and crime, posing as a legitimate businessman to cover up his ill-gotten gains.
“He is a dishonest individual who has shown no remorse for his actions throughout this investigation, refusing to cooperate with the police and attempting to destroy evidence.
“The extent of Sheibani’s criminality should not be underestimated, not only is he involved in tax evasion and money laundering which has a detrimental effect on the economy and society, resulting in honest taxpayers feel this burden, but the source of his tainted income is as a result of a class A drug conspiracy.
“This was a complex investigation which included a number of international investigations and I would like to thank the dedicated team of GMP detectives and financial investigators who worked alongside the CPS to assemble all the evidence that enabled us to ‘expose Sheibani’s fraudulent way of life and the criminal activity he had made every effort to cover up and ensure he was brought to justice.
“May today’s conviction serve as a warning to anyone who thinks they can get away with such fraudulent and criminal activity, we will find you and ensure that you face the full consequences of your actions.”