Benefit fraudsters, cigarette smugglers and money launderers are back in Britain to face prison
Benefit fraudsters, cigarette smugglers and money launderers are back in Britain to face prisonReuters

Five of Britain's most wanted international tax criminals are back in the UK after fleeing the country to avoid prison sentences.

HMRC revealed that the benefit fraudsters, cigarette smugglers and money launderers fled abroad before or during their trial but are now back in Britain for sentencing after receiving important information from the public over their whereabouts over the last two years.

HMRC Most Wanted: (L-R) Voudouri, Fearon, Ferkova,
HMRC Most Wanted: (L-R) Voudouri, Fearon, Ferkova,HMRC

"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," said Jennie Granger, HMRC's Director General of Enforcement and Compliance.

"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 £844m (€1.1bn, $1.4bn) but the success of our campaign means those on the run should know that HMRC will relentlessly pursue them."

Top UK Five Tax Fugitives

These five have been brought back to the UK in the past year to serve their prison terms:

  • 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 £11.6m 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

Source: HMRC