Sofina Sarwar thought her husband could afford a Ferrari and executive boxes at Manchester United and Leicester City FC because he received a “good salary”. Her husband it turns out was defrauding Camelot and Yopa. Sofina a mother-of-four has been found guilty of money laundering after insisting her husband was doing it alone.
Sofina Sarwar’s husband, Haroon Cassim, used his wife’s bank accounts to conceal money he stole from national lottery operator Camelot and online estate agent Yopa. He has admitted fraud and is awaiting sentence.
Sarwar, 34, had denied three charges of entering into a money laundering arrangement, and during her trial said she was not aware of the activity in her bank account. She said she thought her husband could afford a Ferrari and executive boxes at Manchester United and Leicester City FC because he received a “good salary”.
Sarwar also denied she had received expensive gifts from her husband or went shopping for luxury items.
However, after two days of deliberation, a jury of 10 women and two men at Leicester Crown Court found Sarwar guilty of two of the three counts against her of entering into a money-laundering arrangement.
The jury failed to reach a verdict on a third, similar charge and was discharged.
Sarwar was told she was facing jail, with Judge Robert Brown saying the sentence for such an offence could be between 18 months and four years in prison. She will be sentenced next month.
He told Sarwar: “Your case crosses the custody threshold. All options are open.”
The jury was told during the trial that Sarwar’s 36-year-old husband had pleaded guilty to defrauding Camelot out of £960,000 between 2010 and 2013, and defrauding Yopa out of £505,000, between October 2017 and August 2018, by abusing his position as an employee with both firms, as well as laundering stolen cash through his wife’s accounts – allegedly with her co-operation.
But taking the witness stand during her trial, Sarwar, formerly of Danehurst Avenue, New Parks, Leicester, but now of Beaumont Road, Luton, insisted she had no idea what was going on.
During cross-examination, prosecutor Andrew Peet asked Sarwar: “When he was buying a Ferrari you had no idea what was going on?”
She replied: “That’s the truth. He told me it was a company car.”
Mr Peet said: “A Ferrari? Not a Mondeo or a Vectra? Think about it.”
Mr Peet then asked Sarwar: “What about the box at Manchester United?”
Sarwar said: “That was laddish spending on his part, I believed he could afford it … and he sold some of those tickets on.”
Mr Peet said: “He had a box at Leicester City as well?”
Sarwar said: “Yes he did, but he earned a decent salary every month.”
Mr Peet said: “None of these matters raised any suspicions; he was a high roller with a Ferrari and corporate boxes?”
Sarwar said: “He assured me he could afford it and he was making money back on some of the tickets.”
She said she would use her current account debit card for general family shopping at supermarkets and rarely checked the balance – and when she had done, it was never above £10,000.
The defendant said her husband was the only person to use her savings account, which she never checked.
She said that when he had first asked to use her personal bank accounts she had not considered it suspicious because they were married and did not have a joint account.
Sarwar has been found guilty of money laundering between September 2011 and December 2013 and also between October 2017 and August 2018. The jury failed to reach a verdict on the third charge of money laundering between August 2010 and February 2011.
The foreman of the jury told Judge Brown that jurors were not going to reach a point at which 10 or more of them were likely to reach an agreement.
The judge told the barristers in the case: “If the jury cannot reach a decision, I think it’s time I discharge them.”
Both the barristers agreed, and the judge said: “So be it. Then there will not be a retrial and I have to sentence the defendant alongside her husband.”
The couple will both be sentenced next month.