‘Mockery of justice’ as fraudster repays £200k

Voudouri had originally been charged with laundering more than 48 million. Picture: HMRC
Voudouri had originally been charged with laundering more than 48 million. Picture: HMRC
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A FRAUDSTER who became one of Britain’s most wanted fugitives after carrying out a multi-million pound tax scam has had just over £200,000 confiscated by the courts.

Michael Voudouri, 47, was jailed for a total of 11 years and six months last year after admitting laundering £11.6 million through foreign and domestic banks, company accounts and individuals.

“These cases show the tenacity of law enforcement”

Lindsey Miller, procurator fiscal

Crown prosecutors hailed the case as a vindication of their crime-fighting prowess.

But Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont said: “Considering this serious criminal laundered a total of £11.6m, it is disappointing to hear he is not paying back even a fraction of this figure.

“lt makes a mockery of the justice system.

“l would urge the SNP government to review this case as a matter of urgency.”

Voudouri, of Bridge of Allan, Stirling, was eventually tracked down after going on the run to northern Cyprus shortly after pleading guilty in 2012.

Yesterday, Voudouri was made subject of a confiscation order for £207,339.34 – the entirety of his available assets, including a house in Tullibody, Clackmannanshire.

Prosecutors are also attempting to seize a £1m mansion in Bridge of Allan, which is part of confiscation order for £1.3m served on Voudouri in 2006 under the Proceeds of Crime Act, following his conviction for a previous VAT scam.

The Crown said the most recent order meant it could seize assets acquired by Voudouri in the future, up to the full amount of his illegal earnings.

Anne-Marie Gordon, assistant director of criminal investigation at HMRC, said: “Tax fraudsters line their pockets at the UK’s expense, depriving public services of much-needed funds.

“Voudouri paid the price for his VAT fraud and subsequent absconding when he was jailed for 11 and a half years. Today’s decision is more good news for all honest taxpayers.

“Voudouri is now facing the consequences of his fraud with both a lengthy jail sentence and confiscation of his criminal profits.”

Voudouri was imprisoned for ten years last June for charges relating to what the judge, Lord Tyre, described as a “complex money-laundering operation”. He was also jailed for an additional 18 months for failing to appear in court in 2012.

Voudouri was initially charged with laundering more than £48m but ultimately pleaded guilty to charges relating to sums of over £10.3m and £1.2m.

His case was one of five which was called at Edinburgh High Court yesterday and resulted in confiscation orders totalling almost £1.5m.

Orders were also made against drug dealers Peter Walters and Alan Gardner, and brothel-keepers Margaret Paterson and Robert Munro.

Drug dealer Walters, 32, was caught by police in Aberdeen after booking into serviced apartments for just one night.

He was found in the living room in possession of two bags of white powder and a set of digital scales.

All the funds confiscated yesterday will be made available to the Scottish Government for use in the “CashBack” programme for communities.

Speaking after the conclusion of the cases, Lindsey Miller, procurator fiscal for organised crime and counter-terrorism, said: “Today we have removed a vast amount of criminal earnings from organised crime groups operating right across Scotland.

“These cases show the tenacity of law enforcement and prosecutors in pursuing the thing that is most important to criminals – their money.

“Criminals now find themselves not only facing lengthy prison sentences, but they are also subjected to extensive financial investigations by our specialist team of forensic accountants.

“They find that criminal earnings they thought long safe are uncovered, and whenever they cannot be accounted for, we will seek to confiscate them and make them all available for use in community projects across Scotland.”