Poker tournament winner with a criminal past loses it all to HMRC

A money launderer-turned fraudster who was let off from paying back his crime has been forced to handover £70,000 after winning it playing poker.

Adam Lulat, 26, had no assets in 2015 when he and five other men were jailed and ordered by HMRC to repay £590,000 for money laundering and VAT fraud.

But the-then student was warned by tax officials that they reserved the right to chase him to repay the proceeds of the crime at a later date.

And unfortunately for Preston-based Lulat, he struck it lucky at a poker game in Manchester in March this year, pocketing total winnings of £68,930.

“Lulat thought he’d aced the tournament but we had the better hand in the end,” quipped HMRC’s assistant director of fraud investigation Debbie Porter.

“We will not allow tax fraudsters like Lulat to enjoy their winnings until they’ve repaid what they’ve stolen from the taxpayer.”

At a confiscation hearing in 2015, Lulat was found to have benefited from his criminal conduct to the sum of £237,449, but no assets could be identified.

So a nominal £1 confiscation order was made -- an order that this month was increased to £71,770 -- the poker winnings, plus £2,840 found sitting in Lulat’s bank account.

As part of a six-man gang, Lulat helped move around £40million of criminal cash through multiple bank accounts in his name, in the UK and other countries between 2010 and 2011.

The gang were also behind a separate VAT fraud and HMRC investigators tracked their activities across Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic.

They fabricated businesses to make fraudulent VAT repayment claims against multiple EU member states using a complex web of transactions.

HMRC said its co-ordination with European enforcement agencies exposed the gang’s use of bank accounts and money service bureaux to launder the money across borders before the cash was withdrawn for the gang to pocket.

The department added: “[We] will relentlessly pursue criminals for their ill-gotten gains. We will not go away -- we will continue to persue [sic] convicted tax fraudsters to ensure they pay what they owe. Anyone with information about tax crime should contact us on 0800 788 887.”

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Written by Simon Moore

Simon writes impartial news and engaging features for the contractor industry, covering, IR35, the loan charge and general tax and legislation.
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