Manchester money launderer caught with £250k cash is jailed

A businessman who used a converted post office as a front to launder money and used his ill-gotten gains to fund a lavish lifestyle has been jailed for 12 years.

Choudry Yahya (pictured right) and his brother Shahbaz Ali led the gang of four- who have now been caged for more than 26 years.

Yahya lived a ‘lavish lifestyle’ and was able to pay for members of his family to have a private education.

Police said a money service bureau was set up by Yahya after his post office in Longsight, south Manchester closed.

It became part of an organised crime group which took in hundreds of thousands of pounds of dirty money before laundering it using sophisticated methods.

Officers launched an undercover investigation and found that the conspiracy was based at an industrial unit on Arrow Trading Estate in Audenshaw, east Manchester.

They witnessed large bags being delivered to the unit on several occasions in September 2014.

In a dramatic incident, officers had to smash the windows of Yahya’s car after he was stopped by police on Chester Road in Manchester and locked the doors.

They found £250,000 in cash in bin bags on the back seats of the car. 

Police also caught another defendant, Abid Hassan, with £300,000 in a holdall in his car.

Hassan was also seen to drive a hired car to the unit after being given a large bag from by a known criminal after a meeting at a supermarket in Hyde.

A car linked to the gang was also found in Trafford containing £270,000.

During their investigations, police found that the four members of the gang were found with about £818,000 in cash in total. 

A further £29,604 in cash was recovered from premises linked to the group.  

After Yahya was arrested, he was found with a business card linking him to SINA Exchange Ltd, a money service bureau on Stockport Road, Longsight in Manchester.

This was previously the home of Slade Lane Post Office, which Yahya ran before it closed in 2009.

Officers raided the property and found Shahbaz Ali and Mustafa Boztas inside.

The pair had rushed to the unit to try and cover their tracks after learning of Yahya’s arrest.

Police said they found significant evidence of money laundering and fraud at the unit, including a handwritten note which listed items of incriminating evidence to be disposed of.

They found that SINA Exchange was set up to allow the transfer of funds via money transfers around the world.

More than £490,000 was sent to Pakistan, officers discovered.

At a Manchester Crown Court sentencing hearing on Friday July 6, Yahya, 49, of Manchester Road, Audenshaw, was jailed for 12 years after being found guilty of money laundering.

Ali, 28, of Manchester Road, Audenshaw, received a nine-and-a-half year prison sentence after being found guilty of money laundering and perverting the course of justice.

Boztas, 65, of Quebec Road in Ilford, Essex, was jailed for two years and eight months after being found guilty of perverting the course of justice, and will be deported after serving his sentence.

Hassan, 49, of St Ann’s Road South, Heald Green, Stockport, pleaded guilty to money laundering and was jailed for two years and 11 months.

After the hearing, Detective Constable Adam Gleave from the Economic Crime Team at Titan, the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit, said: ‘This was a wide ranging investigation that involved covert surveillance over a long period of time and expert investigation of financial records.

‘Thanks to the professionalism and diligence of our officers, Titan the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit and Greater Manchester Police have managed to crack a vast money laundering network.

‘The general public should be very happy today. We have jailed four men who have tried to cheat the system and evade detection while moving massive amounts of money out of the UK.

‘We are pleased with the sentences handed down today and police are now actively seeking confiscation of the gang’s assets.’

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