Asylum seekers claiming benefits had £250,000 in hidden accounts

A WEALTHY Pakistani couple who came to Britain as asylum seekers claimed £150,000 in state benefits despite having £250,000 in the bank, a court heard.

Syed Zaidi, 41, and wife Rizwana Kamal, 40, were welcomed into the UK and given £40,000 a year in welfare payments.

Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester heard the university graduates took the money despite having their savings stashed away in seven different bank accounts.

The Department for Work and Pensions raided their terrace house in Denton, Greater Manchester, after a tip-off last year, where they found the refugees had two cars.

Judge Bernard Lever this week jailed Kamal for 10 months after she admitted benefit fraud.

In an unusual twist, she was sent behind bars five months after her husband – who also pleaded guilty and has now been released from prison – so their three children would not have to be taken into care.

The couple now face selling their cars and emptying their bank accounts to pay back the money. Sentencing Kamal on Tuesday, Judge Lever told her: “The public will not tolerate thousands of pounds of public money being dishonestly claimed by intelligent people such as yourselves. “You are intelligent people who graduated from university. You came here and had your children. I’ve made sure they have a loving parent to take care of them so they aren’t taken into care in the way I sentenced your husband to his time first, and now you.

“I must send the message you cannot claim thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money dishonestly when you have thousands of pounds in the bank.

“I hope this sends a powerful message both to you and anyone else in the business of defrauding hard-working taxpayers. This is a very sad case and I take no pleasure from it.

It is thought the couple arrived in the UK from Pakistan originally on Kamal’s student visa before putting in their asylum claim despite having family members back home and the country not even being at war. They claimed asylum-seekers benefit, child tax and working tax credits and child benefits for their three children – as well as free acommodation because of their asylum seeker status.

Prosecutor John Wilcox told the court that their savings of £258,530 were never mentioned to the authorities.

He added: “The sum they received in benefits was £150,000. The defendants have seven bank accounts between them. They also have two vehicles registered to Mr Zaidi.”