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THE CAROUSEL ODD COUPLE; EXCLUSIVE Childhood friends..MP's fraud shame son and suspect at the centre of multi-billion-pound swindle probe.

Byline: By NORMAN SILVESTER

THIS is carousel fraud suspect Imran "Im my" Hussain at a society wedding with convicted money launderer Athif Sarwar.

The Sunday Mail can reveal the men at the centre of a major international customs probe into VAT fraud are childhood friends.

Hussain, 29, is being investigated over allegations he masterminded a multi-billion-pound carousel fraud scam in Scotland involving mobile phones and computer chips.

He has not been seen in Britain for seven months after being quizzed by Customs investigators and is now in Pakistan.

Sarwar, 28, the son of MP Mohammad, was jailed for three years this month for laundering pounds 840,000 from carousel fraud through his United Wholesale grocery firm in Pollokshields, Glasgow. He is out pending appeal.

Sarwar used a fictional customer to launder the proceeds from selling mobile phones. The address given was a chip shop where no one knew of the customer. Sarwar's 10 per cent cut was paid by electronic transfer into his business account.

Our picture shows the close pals at the wedding of hairdresser Kashif Ali, 29, to wife Bazgha at Glasgow's Thistle Hotel.

A source said: "They all grew up in the same area of Glasgow.

"I am sure they had plenty to talk about. Hussein is the man they say organised the carousel fraud and Sarwar laundered the proceeds."

Hussein lived in Newton Mearns, near Glasgow, while Sarwar lives in nearby Mearnskirk.

Hussain, said to have amassed pounds 250million from carousel fraud, first went to Dubai where he has two plush villas and a yacht.

Customs spokesman Bob Gaiger said: "We want to question Imran Hussain about a major VAT fraud."

Carousel fraud costs the UK pounds 3billion a year in lost VAT. Crooks import goods then sell them from one bogus company to another.

The first company fails to pass on VAT to the Treasury and goes out of business. Meanwhile the second firm exports the goods and claims back VAT on them.

The goods are then reimported and the process begins again.

Last week we revealed Glasgow firm Diginett earned pounds 281million in a year. Owner Iftakar Iqbal, 41, of Pollokshields, was arrested last year but released without charge.

Carousel fraud was linked to the disappearance of Glasgow accountant Andrew Ramsay, whose severed head was found last month in the Clyde.

He worked for Diginett between July 2004 and April 2005.

SUNDAY EMAIL

n.silvester@sundaymail.co.uk

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Our best friend's wedding: Sarwar, right and Hussain, last year; Exposed: Our Diginett story
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 22, 2007
Words:420
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