A CROOKED New Town solicitor is planning to flee to Panama after starting to transfer his assets to the Central American tax haven, a court has heard.
Michael Karus, who was jailed for three and a half years for embezzling £400,000 from a pensioner’s estate, is being sued for failing to pay his council tax.
Now council chiefs pursuing the debt, understood to be in the low five figures, are concerned the ex-convict will move abroad before settling the bill.
The council was contacted by Karus’ sister, Anielka McElvogue, who warned them the 51-year-old was making preparations to leave the country by moving assets to Panama.
During a hearing at Edinburgh Sheriff Court yesterday, Karus’ solicitor, Michael Foster, said his client intended to put up a property as “security” while the dispute is settled.
But the council’s solicitor, Victoria Marr, opposed any hold-ups in settling the case, adding that “assets might start suddenly disappearing” if there are further delays.
Ms Marr said that Karus’ intention was to “leave the country” when another ongoing court case was resolved.
However, Sheriff Neil Mackinnon agreed to set another hearing for March 28 to allow time for settlement. Karus is currently suing his sister and brother-in-law, Tony McElvogue, for at least £11 million to recover assets he transferred into their names to protect his property empire.
He moved the assets to his relatives after being banned from acting as a company director, but sparked a family war by claiming they refused to return his money.
Karus, whose address has previously been given as Gloucester Place in the New Town, is believed to own a number of properties, but it was not revealed yesterday to which home the unpaid tax bill relates.
Ms Marr said that Karus and council staff had been in discussions over the unpaid bill since November 2011.
She added: “This has been going on for some time. The respondent’s sister has said that he is busy transferring assets to Panama. If there is further delay then assets might start disappearing.
“Mr Karus had more than sufficient time to pay. Vague assertions about a security which may be forthcoming in the future is not good enough.” Mr Foster, representing Karus, said that Karus agreed money was due for council tax but disputed the amount.
Karus could not be reached for comment.