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Member of steroid smuggling organised crime group told to hand over £9.8m proceeds of crime

The final member of a global anabolic steroid manufacture and distribution network has recently been ordered to hand over assets worth more than £9.8 million following a financial investigation by the National Crime Agency.

Mohammed Afzal, aged 39, of Belgrave Road in Slough was sentenced to two years in prison in November 2019 after being found guilty of conspiring to manufacture anabolic steroids.

He was one of five men convicted after an NCA investigation, which began in 2014, identified illegal shipments totalling around 42 tonnes linked to the group.

The raw powder would be shipped by an Indian-based pharmaceutical company to the UK, where it would be converted into liquid form in labs run by Afzal, and then sold to body builders and fitness fanatics on the black market.

Afzal initially claimed to only have around £100,000 in assets, but NCA financial investigators were able to identify a series of property and crypto-currency investments made by him, often involving third parties in an effort to disguise them.

Last week (17 November) a judge at the Central Criminal Court made a Proceeds of Crime Act confiscation order for Afzal’s assets worth £9.825 million. These include portfolios containing around £7.5 million in cryptocurrency, his share in property investments in Berkshire and London worth around £1 million, and a Mercedes GLS SUV.

This is thought to be the biggest single recovery of cryptocurrency obtained under the Proceeds of Crime Act by the NCA.

If he fails to pay within three months he will face another 10 years in jail and still owe the money.

The order means proceeds of crime totalling almost £12 million have now been recovered from the crime group.

In November last year fellow gang member Alexander MacGregor from Dorney Reach in Maidenhead was ordered to pay £1.16 million.

Assets belonging to MacGregor identified by the NCA included bank accounts and share portfolios, a Porsche 911 GT3 sports car, a Ferrari 458, a Mercedes G Wagon, two Beretta shotguns and several high-value watches.

Ringleader Jacob Sporon-Fiedler – the CEO of the company who sourced and shipped steroids from India - had already been ordered by the court to hand over more than £700,000.

Gurpal Dhillon from Southall, who operated as a fixer for Sporon-Fiedler, was ordered to hand over £167,000, while a confiscation order made against Nathan Selcon from Maidenhead meant he had to pay £3,300.

NCA Regional Head of Investigation Rob Burgess said:

“I’m delighted the court has ordered this confiscation. Afzal sought to conceal, obfuscate and delay at every turn during these proceedings in a bid to frustrate them.

“But the NCA’s financial investigation was painstaking and thorough, leading to this large amount being identified, frozen and recovered.

“It demonstrates our determination to go after the proceeds of crime and stop those involved in organised criminality from benefitting financially.”

Tom Cawley of the CPS Proceeds of Crime Division, said:

“This case involved the production and importation of a vast quantity of unlicenced anabolic steroids which in turn generated enormous criminal wealth.

“Collaborative working between the NCA and the CPS led to the successful prosecution of all five members of this destructive operation and asset recovery proceedings were challenging as many of the defendants sought to hide or deny ownership of assets.

“Afzal sought to initially claim his assets were limited to around £70,000 but as result of tenacious investigative work the NCA and CPS POCD were able to identify and freeze assets held in the UK and overseas, held by him and in the names of third parties to the value of £9.8 million, using the powers available to us under the Proceeds of Crime Act.”

“I am proud of the £11.8 million we have worked hard to retrieve from these defendants and hope today’s confiscation sends a strong message to criminals; there is nowhere to hide from investigation and prosecution.”

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