Big-spending fraudster gets 37-year jail term for international drugs scheme

Aram Sheibani enjoyed an extraordinary lavish lifestyle funded by crime. Credit: MEN Media

A multi-million pound fraudster at the head of a large-scale international drugs conspiracy with links to Colombia has been jailed for 37 years.

Aram Sheibani, 40, of Bowdon, Trafford, funded a lavish jetsetting lifestyle through fraud, money laundering and drugs offences.

He built a £5 million property empire in the UK and Spain by masquerading as a legitimate businessman while falsifying his earnings to facilitate further borrowing.

But between 1999 and 2010 he only declared his income on five occasions when he attempted to explain his amassed wealth with forged documents, Manchester Crown Court heard.

Police raided his luxury apartment in Bowdon, Altrincham, in April 2019 and found a safe containing £167,000 in used notes at the address with a Porsche Panamera, worth £24,000, parked outside.

Credit: MEN media

Sheibani attempted to destroy evidence before they entered the address in Delamer Road as he smashed up an encrypted Encro phone, used by high-end criminals, and threw it down the toilet.

A total of £1.2 million in cash was seized from searches at various properties belonging to the defendant, along with the recovery of cryptocurrency valued at #1.3 million and original artwork from Banksy and Andy Warhol gained through illegitimate means.

Cash-counting machines, various quantities of foreign currencies, a number of encrypted electronic devices and substantial mounts of cocaine, ketamine and ecstasy were also recovered, said police.

Evidence showed at least 11 cash-counting machines were acquired by Shebani but only three were traced while two industrial presses, commonly used in drugs production, linked to him have also not been found.

Sheibani refused to disclose the passwords to the recovered encrypted devices but police were able to expose his criminality through examination of other electronic devices, bank records and online shopping accounts.

Sheibani enjoyed a lavish lifestyle. Credit: MEN Media

During his fraudulent activity Sheibani was a frequent worldwide traveller with trips to Dubai, Amsterdam and Ibiza where he enjoyed lavish yacht parties and also had a host of luxury vehicles including two Bentleys, a Porsche and a gull wing Mercedes.

On a trip to Beverly Hills in Los Angeles in 2013 he splashed out 45,000 US dollars on a hair transplant.

A further sizeable sum was spent years later in Istanbul in a similar vain attempt to cure his premature baldness.

In December 2013 he visited Colombia where he mixed business with pleasure as he soaked up the lifestyle of an international drugs supplier, the court heard.

Sentencing, Judge Anthony Cross QC told him: "Your greed knows no boundaries.

"I am certain that you began your criminal life by taking advantage of the property boom in which the money you generated in your early 20s funded your foray into the international drug trade in which you engaged in at the time of your arrest.

"I am satisfied that you are at the very head of a large-scale drugs conspiracy.

"I am satisfied that the evidence indicates you are close to the source of production in Colombia and the international drugs trade which includes the supply of drugs in Europe, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom.

"Your network here runs across the UK.

"You were not just a supplier but a processor of drugs.

"You ran a network of unknown others under your control."

Credit: MEN Media

Following a 10-week trial Sheibani, who came from his native Iran to the UK with his family in 1986, was convicted of numerous offences including conspiracy to supply cocaine, fraud, money laundering, forgery and perverting the course of justice.

Outside court, Detective Sergeant Lucy Pearson, of Greater Manchester Police's economic crime unit, said: "Sheibani is a calculated, deceitful and scheming criminal who believes he is above the law.

"May today's sentencing serve as a warning to anyone thinking they can get away with such fraudulent and criminal activity.

"We will find you and ensure that you face the full consequences of your actions."