11/26/2008 12:28:00 PM
VAT fraudster to pay back stolen millions or face jail
Craig Johnson, the mastermind behind Britain’s biggest ever VAT fraud case, has been ordered to pay back the £26m he stole from the public purse, or face another 10 years in prison.
A confiscation order was secured last week at Wolverhampton Crown Court, forcing the ‘Ferrari fraudster’ to pay back the proceeds from his crime.
Johnson played a lead role in organising a gang that stole a total of £138m by conducting what is known as ‘carousel fraud’ or ‘missing trader fraud’.
The scam involves fraudsters moving phones through various companies, claiming VAT against each business and disappearing without paying it.
Johnson has been ordered to repay £8m in the next 12 months and the remainder within a further 12-month period. Johnson’s restrained assets include a helicopter, a yacht, Rolex watches, diamonds, two properties (including a stately home) and performance vehicles (including a Ferrari and two Bentleys).
The confiscation hearing also featured two other defendants from the 12-strong gang. Steven Lipinski has been ordered to pay £376,540 within a nine-month period or face a further three-and-a-half years in prison; while the confiscation order relating to Linda Wragg will be heard next week.