Oh happy memories of Shaw Taylor and “Police 5”, and echoes of “America’s Most Wanted”. HMRC has issued photos of its 20 most wanted tax evaders, most of whom are believed to have fled the country.
Having established with relief but not surprise that I do not know any of them, personally or professionally, and given that HMRC’s flickr site gives details of the estimated amounts of tax involved in each case, it is irresistible to formulate, in best Top of the Pops style, the top 20 UK tax fugitives:
At number 20, with £197,000, Estonian Dimitri Gaskov, alleged cigarette smuggler. Don’t be sad Dmitri, someone had to come 20th.
At 19, with £328,000, alleged VAT fraudster Sahil Jain of India.
At 18, with £600,000, Swiss national Cesare Selvini, who introduces some novelty into the alleged offences list with smuggling platinum bars.
At 17, with £800,000, alleged VAT fraudster Yehuda Cohen of Israel.
Number 16 is Mohammed Sami Kaak, a UK/Tunisian dual national, accused of duty fraud to the tune of £822,000.
15 is Rory Martin McGann of the Republic of Ireland, at £902,000 from alleged VAT offences.
At 14, the first to reach the £1 million mark is Olutayo Owolabi, our first wholly home-grown UK entrant, accused of tax credit fraud and money laundering.
Keeping the UK theme going at 13 is Wayne Joseph Hardy, accused of tobacco smuggling at a cost to HMRC of £1.9 million.
Back to alleged international fraudsters at 12, with Leigang Liang of China, at £2.6 million for a variety of alleged offences including illegal importation of counterfeit tobacco and VAT and duty fraud.
Ukraine makes an appearance at 11, with alleged fraudulent income tax self assessment claims the charge aimed at Vladdimir Jeriomin, netting some £4.8 million.
Into the top 10, with joint entrants at number 9, accused of complicity in the same customs duty and VAT fraud to the tune of £15 million (more than double #11, so no need to decide if the haul should be split between them) are the UK duo of Gordon Arthur and Emma Elizabeth Tazey, the sole female entrant.
Narrowly pipping them at number 8 is another UK entrant, Malcolm McGregor, at £16 million for alleged VAT and duty fraud.
7 in our chart is John Nugent, a UK/Irish dual national, with £22 million from alleged fraudulent duty & VAT reclaims.
Just ahead of him at 6 is Darsim Abdullah of Iraq, at £24 million from alleged laundering of the proceeds of crime.
Pipping him to make the top 5 is Timur Mehmet of the UK, with £25 million from alleged VAT fraud.
Something of a quantum jump to £64 million at number 4 for Adam Umerji, aka Shafiq Patel of the UK, accused of VAT fraud and money laundering.
Mixing metaphors with a vengeance, the bronze medal goes to the UK, with Zafar Baidar Chisthi, accused of VAT fraud offences to the tune of £150 million.
The silver medal also stays in this country with Nasser Ahmed, accused of VAT fraud offences to the tune of £156 million.
Which leaves the gold medal of infamy for the UK/Pakistani dual national Hussain Asad Chohan, accused of a staggering £200 million of tobacco duty fraud and smuggling, and subject to a £33 million confiscation order.
Needless to say, if anyone knows anything of the whereabouts of any of this despicable bunch of alleged criminals, HMRC would be delighted to hear from you, particularly if it leads to the recovery of some of the horrific total of £686 million apparently misappropriated by these ne’er do wells.
Just to finish with some good news, HMRC’s flickr site also details successful prosecutions odf tax fraudsters, including William Lucas Charles Batchelor, sentenced to 4 years for a £673,000 VAT fraud (at last, I don’t have to say “allegedly”) which apparently financed a life of luxury. Do check out the photos of said life of luxury, which adds a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ to the site’s appeal.
And finally, whilst not seeking to excuse the deficient moral compass of those who engage in artificial and abusive tax avoidance, let us recall that they are at least engaged in legal activity, apparently unlike those who ‘grace’ the above top 20. More power to HMRC’s elbow in tracking down these people and recovering the amounts due to the exchequer.