GUKPT Manchester Winner’s £70,000 Prize Seized by Taxman Over 2015 Fraud

When Preston native Adam Lulat won the GUKPT Manchester main event in March of this year, besting 241 players for just under $70,000, it was his first cash in a major event in two years.

Adam Lulat

Adam Lulat was lauded after winning the GUKPT Manchester main event for £70,000. But he was hauled into Manchester Crown Court this week and told to turn over his winnings to the taxman. (Image: GUKPT)

There was a good reason for that. In 2015, he had been sentenced to 28 months in prison for money-laundering and tax fraud.

Now, HMRC wants its money back and has ordered Lulat to turn over his GUKPT winnings.

According to prosecutors, Lulat was part of a gang of six that laundered money for criminal organizations across Europe, moving around £40 million in dirty cash through a complex web of bank accounts.

He was arrested at Heathrow Airport as he returned from a trip to Poland. Investigators had linked him to the underground criminal network via his internet and mobile phone records, discovering he operated two businesses and held four bank accounts that laundered money for the gang

At the time, HMRC branded the operation “money-laundering on an industrial scale.”

Bogus VAT Racket

Separately, the gang was accused of orchestrating a Pan-European VAT fraud that used fake companies to make bogus VAT repayment claims against multiple EU member states through a complex network of transactions.

British police joined forces with European agencies to build a case against the gang, which had used bank accounts and money service bureaus to launder cash across Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic, before withdrawing the spoils.

But despite the large amounts of cash involved in the scheme, incredibly, when the all six members of the gang were ordered by the courts to sell their assets to repay money bilked from tax authorities, the 23-year-old student and future GUKPT champ was found to have nothing.

He was fined a nominal £1, but he was told HMRC could seize up to £237,449 in the future.

The day of reckoning arrived when someone at HMRC apparently spotted media reports of Lulat’s win.

Back in Court

Lulat was hauled before Manchester Crown Court this week and ordered to relinquish his GUKPT spoils, plus an extra £2,840 in a personal bank account, or face a further 15 months in jail.

Lulat thought he’d aced the tournament but we had the better hand in the end,” quipped Debbie Porter, Assistant Director, of the HMRC’S Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC.

We will not allow tax fraudsters like Lulat to enjoy their winnings until they’ve repaid what they’ve stolen from the taxpayer,” she added. HMRC will relentlessly pursue criminals for their ill-gotten gains.

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