A “calculated, deceitful and scheming” man from Bowdon was today sentenced to 37 years in prison for a catalogue of fraud, money laundering and drug offences.
Aram Sheibani, 40, of Delamer Road, was sentenced at Manchester Crown Square Crown Court today.
The court heard how Sheibani was involved in high level criminality which had seen him accumulate substantial wealth including a £5million portfolio of properties, although the full extent of his wealth is unknown.
Evidence showed that Sheibani had obtained properties in the UK and Spain by fraud, masquerading as a legitimate businessman whilst falsifying his earnings to facilitate further borrowing.
His tax records were incomplete and he produced forged documents including bank statements, payslips and P60s to support his false declared earnings.
The majority of Sheibani’s wealth was found to come from cash deposits and overseas money transfers.
In April 2019, warrants were executed at a number of addresses connected to Sheibani across Manchester and London and he was arrested on suspicion of money laundering and fraud.
When the police arrived at his Bowdon apartment, Sheibani attempted to delay efforts to secure access by refusing to answer the door as he attempted to destroy evidence.
Police were finally able to gain access by forcing their way into the apartment through a communal door. As police escorted Sheibani from the building, he shouted to his girlfriend “don’t tell them anything, go no comment”.
A safe was recovered from the property which contained over £160,000 in cash, a number of safety deposit keys, crypto currency recovery codes and cocaine. A Porsche Panemera, valued at £24,000, was also recovered and further searches of the apartment found a number of mobile phones – including two encro phones with military grade encryption to prevent unauthorised access to any data stored on the devices.
Two of these phones – one of which was an encro phone – were found smashed and submerged down the toilet in an attempt by Sheibani to destroy evidence.
Searches of his other properties also found cash counting machines, various quantities of foreign currencies, an encrypted iron key USB, a number of electronic devices, a substantial amount of class A and B drugs including cocaine, ketamine and ecstasy, and a number of original artwork pieces – including those by artists such as Banksy and Andy Warhol – which were later found to be obtained through illegitimate means.
Overall, these warrants resulted in the recovery of £1.2m of cash, property to the value of £5m and cryptocurrency valued at £1.5m.
When interviewed by the police, Sheibani refused to hand over the PINs and passwords for the recovered encrypted electronic devices and iron key USB, even when served with a court order.
The court also heard how Sheibani had previously been twice stopped at airports when flying back from Ibiza, resulting in the seizure of over £42,000 of cash, which the court accepted aas confirmation of Sheibani’s involvement in conspiracy to supply class A drugs.
Having found Sheibani guilty yesterday, Judge Anthony Cross QC today sentenced him to 34 years, with an extra three years to be served consecutively after failing to provide the password to his devices.
He will serve half the term in jail and will be brought back before the courts for a Proceeds of Crime hearing next year.
Sergeant Lucy Pearson, of GMP’s Economic Crime Unit, said: “Sheibani is a calculated, deceitful and scheming criminal who believes he is above the law. His greed shows no limits and he has been funding his materialistic lifestyle of luxury with fraud and criminality, masquerading as a legitimate businessman to conceal his ill-gotten gains.
“He is a dishonest individual who has not shown any remorse for his actions throughout this entire investigation, refusing to co-operate with 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 tax payers feeling that burden, but the source of his tainted income is as a result of a class A drugs conspiracy.
“This has been a complex investigation which has included a number of international enquiries and I would like to thank the dedicated team of GMP detectives and financial investigators who have working alongside CPS to gather all the evidence which has allowed us to expose Sheibani’s fraudulent lifestyle and the criminal activity he had tried so hard to conceal, and ensure he faces justice.
“May today’s sentencing serve as a warning to anyone thinking 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.”