A CRIMINAL who laundered money for a gang who sold stolen car parts has avoided a prison sentence.

Ayas Patel admitted allowing his personal bank account to be used by one of the key players in the money laundering racket.

But he told Manchester Crown Court he did not know it was being used to sell £18,000 worth of stolen car parts on the online auction site, eBay.

Patel, aged 30, of Derby Street, Daubhill, has been sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to do 240 hours of unpaid work.

Shoayb Patel, aged 26, of Crompton Place, Blackburn, has been sentenced to three years and four months in prison for money laundering offences under the Proceeds of Crime Act and Arif Gorji, aged 31, of Granville Road, Blackburn, has been sentenced to two years and eight months in prison.

In October, 2010, police stopped a Ford Transit van in Wythenshawe. Jose Joaquim, aged 36, and Helder Santos, aged 33, both from Leicester were in the van and arrested on suspicion of theft of a motor vehicle.

Following a police raid at the Millbrook Industrial Estate, Wythenshawe it became clear it was being used to store car parts, which were then sold online.

Further searches were carried out by Greater Manchester, Leicestershire and Lancashire police at homes and businesses.

Car chassis and parts were found.

Gorji was arrested on suspicion of handling stolen goods. He confirmed his business partner was Shoayb Patel, who was friends with Ayas Patel.

In March, 2011, a raid was carried out at an industrial unit in Blackburn and Gorji and Shoayb Patel were found loading a large heavy goods vehicle bound for Germany with car parts.

Gorji, Ayas Patel, Shoyab Patel, Jose Joaquim and Helder Santos were charged under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 in August last year.

DC Ashley Matthias from Greater Manchester Police’s organised crime init, said: “It was a highly organised criminal enterprise, involving the theft and disposal of more than £600,000 worth of cars and the resale of their parts to innocent purchasers through eBay and other sale websites.”

Two other men were sentenced at an earlier hearing after they were found guilty of money laundering offences.

Joaquim and Santos were both sentenced to two years in prison.