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Subject: VAT fraudster must pay back £26m

Written By: Philip Eno on 11/21/08 at 4:45 pm

VAT fraudster must pay back £26m
A 35-year-old man jailed for his part in a multi-million pound VAT fraud must repay £26m to the government.

The repayment order on Craig Johnson who is serving 12-and-a-half years, was made at a confiscation hearing.

Among the assets he must sell are a helicopter, his stately home near Stone in Staffordshire, two Bentleys and an Aston Martin.

The fraud is one of the largest thefts from public funds that has been brought to court after a Customs investigation.

'Carousel' fraud

Robert Alder, assistant director of Criminal Investigation for HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), said the six-year inquiry had resulted in one of the longest prison sentences for such a VAT-related offence and one of the largest confiscation orders ever secured.

If Johnson does not repay the money he could face another 10 years in prison under the terms of the confiscation order at Wolverhampton Crown Court on Thursday.

He must pay £8m within the next 12 months and the remainder within a further 12 months, HMRC said.

Another defendant was also ordered to repay £376,540 within nine months or face a further three-and-half years in prison.

Johnson was one of 21 people to be jailed in connection with the £138m fraud. The defendants were sentenced to a total of 133 years, HMRC said.

He laundered more than £6m through a complex tax fraud involving the apparent importation and exportation of mobile telephones between several EU states.

Meaford Hall, Johnson's stately home situated in 22 acres of grounds, has been valued by HMRC at between £2.5m and £3m.

After he was sentenced, a neighbour told BBC News that "it was like living next-door to pop stars" although they were unaware of the source of his wealth.

Other assets seized in the operation include a yacht, Rolex watches, diamonds and more luxury cars.

Mr Adler said the order "signals our determination to pursue convicted criminals".

"The outcome of our investigations will result in vital funds being restored to the nation for investment in public services," he added

Subject: Re: VAT fraudster must pay back £26m

Written By: Paul on 11/21/08 at 4:55 pm

Silly bloke...

He should have done what Kevin & Robert Maxwell did...sign everything over to the girlfriend/wife and then declare himself bankrupt!

Whether he coughs up or not, he won't be spending that amount of time at HM's pleasure...I can assure you!

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