Ex-golf ace was the brains behind £3.5m tax fiddle
A FORMER Leek businessman who was once British amateur golf champion has been jailed for four years after being found guilty of masterminding a £3.5 million tax scam.
Millionaire Duncan Evans, who used to live at Leekbrook Junction and still has family connections in the town, was BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year in 1980.
But the 50-year-old became involved in a "sophisticated" VAT fraud, living a lavish lifestyle at taxpayers' expense.
During a seven-week trial, Manchester Crown Court heard how he fed the cash into offshore bank accounts in Hong Kong and used it to buy multi-million pound properties in the North West.
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Evans – a former member of Leek Golf Club in Birchall – splashed out £1.2 million in 2002 on Deansgreen Hall in Lymm, Cheshire, before selling it for £3.5 million four years later.
He used the profits from that to buy Ravenstone House in Hale, Cheshire, for £2 million. It is currently up for sale for £3 million.
Evans, who also bought a £195,000 Rolls Royce, was jailed for a tax scam known as "missing trader" fraud.
He took advantage of the fact VAT is not charged on the sale of goods between VAT-registered companies based in different European countries.
Evans, who was previously jailed for three years in 2003 for his involvement in a similar fraud, would buy goods from other countries then claim against huge sums of VAT that were never liable or paid.
Co-conspirator Leslie Cairns, aged 51, of Bramhall Lane, Stockport, was also jailed for four years for his role in the swindle.
Alan Lee, deputy director of Criminal Investigation for HM Revenue & Customs, said: "This case shows our determination to pursue the ill-gotten gains of criminals who are relentless in living a life of crime.
"Organised crime groups will stop at nothing in their bid to build vast portfolios of cash, properties, performance cars and other luxury items at the expense of the British taxpayer."
The pair were jailed on August 5. A confiscation hearing has been set for May 14 next year and assets of more than £5 million have already been seized.
In his career as an amateur golfer, Evans played in the Walker Cup – the amateur equivalent of the Ryder Cup – and won the British Amateur Championship in 1981.
He was also a property developer, before joining the mobile phone industry where he was promoted to international sales director, earning £300,000 a year in commission.