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A convicted VAT fraudster has been ordered to pay Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs £26m or serve an extra ten years in prison.

Craig Johnson is already serving 12-and-a-half years for his part in a missing trader or carousel fraud which defrauded the Revenue of £138m. The confiscation order means Johnson must cough up £8m within a year and the remaining £18m within the following twelve months.

Robert Alder, assistant director of criminal investigations for HMRC, said: "This is one of the largest thefts from public funds that has been brought before the courts following our investigations. It has resulted in one of the longest prison sentences and one of the largest confiscation orders ever secured."

Alder said carousel fraud remained a top priority for HMRC.

Johnson was living in a stately home in Staffordshire called Meaford Hall. It has now been seized by the Revenue. HMRC has also seized a helicopter, yacht, two homes and an Aston Martin, a Ferrari and two Bentleys, as well as Rolex watches and diamonds.

He was caught as part of Operation Emersed which, in parallel with Operation Shepherd and Operation Shoot, netted 21 individuals.

Another six members of the gang have confiscation hearings in January and three more face the courts in March.

The Revenue release is here

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