Smugglers, potential arms dealers and globe-trotting tax fugitives all featured in HM Revenue and Customs' top 10 criminal cases of 2018.
HMRC revealed this morning (December 28) that fraud investigations had led to 671 people being convicted over the past 12 months for their part in tax crimes.
These included a variety of profiles from high-flying business people to tax consultants, and church leaders to organised criminals with crimes spanning from stealing Gift Aid money to smuggling illicit tobacco in fridge freezers, and breaching weapons of mass destruction controls.
HMRC stated it was typically successful in about 90 per cent of criminal cases it brought to trial. The taxman has charged another 919 people and taken on 746 new criminal investigations in the year.
Mel Stride, financial secretary to the Treasury, said: "HMRC’s investigative teams have been working hard to crack down on tax crimes in the UK, and hold those who would cheat the public revenue to account.
"The range of cases in this year’s list demonstrates how HMRC will always tackle fraud and can prosecute anyone who steals from the public or breaks the rules - from smugglers to potential arms dealers."
These are HMRC's top ten cases of 2018:
- Hussain Asad Chohan - a tax fugitive, who spent more than 11 years on the run and owes more than £53m, ending up behind bars after he was caught in Canada.
- Five fraudsters who falsely claimed £13m in tax repayments and facilitated about 900 bogus visa applications, and were sentenced to a total of more than 31 years in jail.
- An 8-strong tobacco smuggling gang that brought more than 2 million illegal cigarettes into the north east hidden among fridge freezers - its members were jailed for a total of more than 26 years.
- David Michael Hughes, a tax consultant who fled the UK before he could be arrested for masterminding a conspiracy to steal £6.9m from construction workers’ pay packets, going to prison. Hughes had travelled to Chile, Dubai and Cyprus to evade justice and was eventually arrested at Heathrow airport after arriving from Istanbul.
- A pair of father and son tax fugitives who were captured in Spain and extradited to the UK. The £1m VAT fraudster son tried to avoid jail by fleeing to France in a light aircraft, while his father escaped by ferry, before they both headed to Spain.
- Alexander George, a company boss who was jailed for trafficking fighter jet parts to Iran in violation of weapons of mass destruction controls. George had shipped military items, including Russian MiG and US F4 Phantom parts, to Iran through various companies and countries.
- Laurel Goodman, the manager of a well-known male stripping troupe, who was sentenced in her absence for tax and benefit fraud and is behind bars after more than a year on the run.
- Teslim Johnson, a church leader from Luton who lied about charity donations to fraudulently claim £150,000 Gift Aid repayments, and was jailed for 4 years.