A company director has been ordered to return £150,000 to the public purse following a hearing today (2 July) at Leeds Crown Court.
The confiscation order is in addition to a custodial sentence handed down in May 2019, which saw Kewal Banga sentenced to two years 11 months after pleading guilty to money laundering*.
Banga, aged 40, from Waddell Grove Land, Stourbridge, was one of two company directors of a firm that was found to mis-sell electrical goods. The scam was uncovered after customers complained that goods ordered online from the company’s Electrohut website were never delivered or that goods received were different to the order. Over the period of a few months the site had taken £330,000 in orders from almost 1000 consumers.
The second company director, Saleem Arif, aged 55, of Westfield Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, was sentenced on 9 May 2019 to four years six months at Leeds Crown Court for money laundering and fraudulent trading**. Arif and Banga were each disqualified from being company directors for 8 years. A third defendant was previously found not guilty of both counts.
Arif, a director of Electroponents, ran and advertised a website, www.electrohut.com, offering low cost deals on branded TVs, cameras, tablets, smartphones and computer hardware. When consumers complained and asked for their money back because goods they had ordered never arrived or were the wrong item, they were fobbed off with excuses by company representatives.
Some consumers were told the website’s merchant services provider could no longer service the volume of business or were told to ask the merchant provider for a refund. Other consumers were told the company’s phone lines were temporarily unavailable and would be fixed shortly. The defendants also used misleading addresses in London and, in March 2015, they changed the company’s name to Discount Gizmos.
Lord Toby Harris, Chair of the National Trading Standards, said:
“This is a welcome result – thanks to the hard work of investigators, Kewal Banga must return the significant sums of money he earned as part of this scam, in addition to the custodial sentence handed down last year. This is an important result that demonstrates our commitment to tackling criminals that deliberately set out to deceive and mislead consumers. If you believe you, or someone you know, has fallen victim to a fraud like this you should report it to the Citizens Advice consumer service helpline by calling 0808 223 1133.”
Notes to Editors
*Becoming concerned in a money laundering arrangement is contrary to section 328(1) of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
**Fraudulent trading is contrary to section 993 of the Companies Act 2006.
About National Trading Standards:
National Trading Standards delivers national and regional consumer protection enforcement. Its Board is made up of senior and experienced heads of local government trading standards from around England and Wales with an independent Chair. Its purpose is to protect consumers and safeguard legitimate businesses by tackling serious national and regional consumer protection issues and organised criminality.