Fugitive tax fraudster father and son ordered to pay £109m

The investigation by HMRC led to four criminal trial. Picture: TSPL

The investigation by HMRC led to four criminal trial. Picture: TSPL

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A fugitive father and son have been ordered to pay £109 million over a mobile phone VAT fraud.

HMRC inspectors say Geoffrey Johnson, 72, and son Gareth, 48, must pay up immediately or have 14 years added to their sentences.

The Johnsons are the subject of international arrest warrants after absconding prior to trial. They were part of an 18-strong crime gang that stole £20m in a mobile phone VAT carousel fraud, which stretched from the US to the UK, Portugal, Andorra, Switzerland, Dubai and Hong Kong.

The investigation by HMRC led to four criminal trials between 2012 and 2014.

In total 18 gang members from Scotland, Cheshire, East Sussex, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, North Wales, Staffordshire and Spain, were jailed for a total of 135 years.

Gareth Johnson, formerly of Turin, Forfar, was sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2013 after being tried in his absence.

He was the principal controller behind Tectonics Holdings – which played an integral role in the fraud by laundering money through personal UK and offshore accounts. He also had control of Coast Logistics, another company used in the fraud.

Geoffrey Johnson, 72, now living in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, was sentenced to ten years in his absence in 2014.

HRMC said he was instrumental in laundering the criminal proceeds of the fraud and greatly benefited from them.

Co-conspirator, Sarah Panitzke, 42, from Barcelona, was ordered to repay more than £2.4m or serve more time in jail. She is also on the run. Alison Shelton, 43, from Staffordshire, who is serving a nine-year jail sentence, was ordered to repay £83,000.

Albert Amritanand, from Forfar, was sentenced to five years’ jail in 2013. He paid back £500,000 in 2015.

Kevin Newe, assistant director of HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service, said: “We are determined that gangs such as this one should be made to repay their criminal profits.”

Nick Price, Head of CPS Proceeds of Crime, said: “We will continue to work towards the realisation of the assets in this order. We are determined that crime will not pay.”

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