Son of millionaire former MP has money laundering conviction overturned
Athif Sarwar cleared by the Court of Criminal Appeal after jury found him guilty of using family business to conceal the proceeds of VAT frauds.
The son of millionaire MP walked free from court after appeal judges overturned his conviction for money laundering and ended the family's "living hell."
Athif Sarwar, 32, was jailed for three years after a jury found him guilty of using the family's cash and carry business to conceal the proceeds of VAT frauds amounting to more than £845,000.
Since the verdict in May 2007, Mr Sarwar from Mearnskirk in Glasgow has continued to protest his innocence. Just two weeks after he was sentenced he was freed to await the outcome of his appeal.
The decision at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh marks a second triumph for Mike Jones QC who, in 1999, successfully defended Athif's father, Mohammad Sarwar, who had been accused of trying to bribe an election opponent during the contest for the Glasgow Central seat two years earlier.
The election made millionaire Mohammad Sarwar Scotland's first Muslim MP and led to him handing over control of his huge cash and carry warehouse business to his son.
As they left court together, Mohammad Sarwar said: "I believe institutionalised racism has played a part. My family and myself have suffered for the last eight years and this was a living hell for my family."
The former MP called for an inquiry into the 2003 investigation by HM Revenue and Customs which eventually led to his son standing trial at the High Court in Glasgow.
"I believe the Crown got it wrong, HMRC got it wrong and - I am saying this with a heavy heart - that Lord Carloway, the trial judge, got it wrong."
But, he added: "We are proud of Scottish justice, where justice can prevail, and the calibre of the appeal judges really impressed me."
Athif Sarwar claimed he suffered a miscarriage of justice because there was not enough evidence to link him to the scam which was said to be going on at the United Wholesale warehouse in Maxwell Road, Glasgow, between February and April 2003.
He also claimed the jury verdicts were perverse because another man, Mansoor Khan, then 43, of Giffnock, Glasgow, who was assistant manager at Sarwar's United Wholesale warehouse, was cleared.
During a six week trial, the Crown said Athif Sarwar, then managing director of the wholesale cash and carry firm, had used the business to launder the money in return for a 10% cut.