Shop used as organised crime front has licence revoked

Mistry off-licence (Google Maps)
Mistry off-licence (Google Maps)

A shop has had its licence revoked amid ‘overwhelming’ evidence that it was used as a front for ‘crime against the state’.

Mistry, in Featherstone, helped generate millions of pounds for licence holder Malkeet Rathod, who charged nearly 200 immigrants cash for entry into the UK illegally.

He was jailed in June for nine years for fraud and money laundering, while his wife and sister-in-law were also convicted of money laundering.

West Yorkshire Police sought a review into the premises, which are currently closed, and which were discussed during a licencing committee meeting at Wakefield Council on Tuesday.

Speaking on behalf of the police, solicitor Andrew Garthwaite, said: “It is quite straightforward, the premises was used as a base for religious migrants in order to commit very expensive and large-scale fraud.

“We have a licence holder who is in prison and can’t run his establishment, and we have premises clearly linked to organised crime and serious crime against the state.

“The only outcome should be revocation.

“This is not a scenario where Mr Rathod can be removed and replaced with a member of his family - other members of his family were convicted and others suspected of their involvement.”

Rathod, 49, set up bogus Sikh religious missions at two premises, one of them being the shop on Featherstone Lane, the other in Birkenshaw.

He provided fraudulent paperwork to keep Indians in the country as religious workers, charging them up to £4,000 a time to act as their sponsor to gain them entry.

Between £2 and £3 million is thought to have been gained through the operation.

After no objections were raised at the application to revoke the licence, the council’s senior legal advisor, Paul Jaques, said: “The premises were central to illegal activity.

“The evidence presented is overwhelming.

“In the circumstances, the premises’ licence will be revoked.”

Kirklees Council is now expected to discuss the future of the Rathod’s second premises in Birkenshaw at a later date.

Paula Dillon, President of Leeds Chamber Commerce.

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