A COMPANY director has been jailed for tipping off a client about a secret police money laundering investigation.
Accountancy firm boss Kishor Doshi has was given an 18-month sentence for telling a man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, that Northumbria Police’s specialist economic crime unit had obtained court papers ordering the release of his finances.
The 60-year-old dad, of Dunelm South, Sunderland, was also banned from being a company director for six years.
He looked shaken as he was led from the dock at Newcastle Crown Court.
Doshi was said to have potentially prejudiced a covert money laundering inquiry by his actions, and became the first person in the country convicted of such an offence under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
He also pleaded guilty to failing to adhere to money laundering regulations, by not registering with HM Revenue & Customs.
Recorder Andrew Kershaw said he hoped the sentence would act as a deterrent to others.
Doshi was arrested at the office of his firm Otax - trading as Accountancy & Taxation Services - at St Marks Road, Millfield, in November 2009,
He said he passed on the existence of a Production Order after opening the letter from police, on return from holiday in Spain, but claimed not to realise it was to be kept secret by law.
However, a jury did not believe him. Prosecutor Peter Gair said: “This defendant has played fast and loose with the system.”
Two testimonies to Doshi’s good character, from a solicitor and an ex-policeman, were submitted.
Mitigating, Andrew Rutter said his client was in very poor health.
He added: “From humble beginnings, he has made something of himself by self-sacrifice and hard work, so now his company employs 12 individuals.
“He has not forgotten his roots and is conscious of those less fortunate than himself, and has spent a lot of his spare time raising money for charitable concerns.”
Mr Rutter said there was no evidence that what Doshi did had “resulted in maladministration of justice.”
However, Recorder Kershaw said the prejudice to Operation Galapagos caused by Doshi was likely to have been “substantial,” and that immediate custody was the only proper sentence.
“Nothing less than that is adequate to punish you, or to deter others who may be tempted or persuaded to replace you.
“I cannot give you credit for remorse, because you haven’t shown any.
After the hearing, Detective Sergeant Andy Gimza of the Economic Crime Unit, said: “Northumbria Police will continue to serve the North East by supporting legitimate local business through the removal of illegal and unfair competition caused by organised crime.
“We will always ensure that any professional found assisting organised crime will be dealt with swiftly and placed before the court.”