Five of the UK’s top tax fugitives brought back to the UK to face justice
Five of the UK’s top tax fugitives have been brought back to the UK to face justice following a global HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) initiative.
Of the ‘Most Wanted’ fugitives who fled abroad before or during their trial, the five who have been brought back to the UK in the past year to serve their prison terms include:
- John Sabin, who fled to Spain after being convicted of his involvement in smuggling more than 150 million illicit cigarettes into the UK;
- Malcolm McGowan, who fled to Spain prior to sentencing after being convicted for smuggling 28.3 million cigarettes;
- Magdalena Ferkova, who was returned from the Czech Republic after being convicted of tax credit and child benefit fraud;
- Michael Voudouri, who fled to Northern Cyprus prior to sentencing after being found guilty of an £11.6 million money laundering scam;
- Michael Fearon, who fled to the Republic of Ireland while on trial for his involvement in smuggling nearly 8.4 million cigarettes.
HMRC has also received important information on the whereabouts of 12 other fugitives on the list.
Building on this success, HMRC is today publishing five more photos of Britain’s Most Wanted tax fugitives, including Ahmed Salim Khezri from Illminster, Rochdale, Greater Manchester, and asking for the public to play their part in helping to track these criminals down.
Ahmed Salim Khezri, an Iranian national, is wanted in connection with a huge cigarette smuggling conspiracy. He was part of an organised crime group that stood trial at Manchester Crown Court. Khezri was found guilty in his absence and sentenced to a six year jail term in April 2014. His part in the fraud is estimated at over £2.2 million.
Jennie Granger, HMRC’s Director General of Enforcement and Compliance, said:
“Tax fraudsters line their pockets at the UK’s expense. The individuals on our Most Wanted list have been charged but fled the country to avoid justice, so it’s excellent news for all honest taxpayers that five fugitives on last year’s list have now been brought back to face the consequences. This is down to the determination of our people with the help and support of the general public.
“We would like to thank the public for that help, and ask them to look at the 2014 list and help us to bring back the rest.
“These fugitives were involved in frauds that have collectively cost the UK more than £844 million but the success of our campaign means those on the run should know that HMRC will relentlessly pursue them.”
HMRC’s evasion publicity campaign works alongside existing compliance activity such as taskforces, data collection and enforcement to raise awareness among those breaking the rules that HMRC is closing in on undeclared income.
The Most Wanted campaign, which was launched in 2012, encourages the public to help HMRC to track down fugitives wherever they are in the world so that they can be returned to the UK and be sentenced for their crimes.
In the two years since HMRC first published the images of its top tax fraud absconders, three million public viewings have resulted directly in the capture of some of the fugitives and a total of 915 prosecutions have been completed in 2013 to 2014.
In addition, HMRC now knows where 16 of the Most Wanted fugitives are. Where legally possible, HMRC will seek extraditions with the help of the Crown Prosecution Service and other partners, both in the UK and overseas, to ensure as many are brought back to the UK as possible.
HMRC’s updated Most Wanted list, including updated profiles and new additions to the list of fugitives, can be seen here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hmrcgovuk/sets/72157631087785530/
The gallery also features a tax fugitive map, showing where in the world HMRC believes these fraudsters to be.
Anyone with information on these fugitives should contact the Tax Evasion Hotline on 0800 788 887 or email via the HMRC website at http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/reportingfraud/online.htm. Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.