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A Dorset tax fraudster, who fled the UK four years ago after telling a judge in a note that he was unprepared to go to jail, has been extradited from France and is beginning a six year prison term.
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) issued a European Arrest Warrant for 49-year-old Mark Anthony McGovern who jumped bail in the summer of 2008. It is believed he lived in Spain or Southern France until he was tracked down by the French authorities near Montpellier last month.
McGovern pleaded guilty tolaundering £278,340.87 of criminal proceeds in April 2008, following a wider HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) investigation into VAT fraud. However, he absconded and failed to attend Canterbury Crown Court for sentencing on 1 August 2008 and the Judge issued awarrant for his arrest. McGovern was later sentenced to two years imprisonment in his absence on 29 August 2008.
Martin Brown, HMRC Assistant Director Criminal Investigation, said:
“McGovern is finally facing UK justice after four years on the run. We are determined to pursue fugitives and ensure they face the consequences of their criminal activity. We can now begin to recover the proceeds of crime he laundered, which with daily interest currently stands at over £345,000.
"HMRC would like to thank those key UK and European partners whoassisted with this operation, resulting in McGovern’s successfulextradition.”
HMRC successfully applied fora confiscation order in relation to the £278,340.87 laundered. On 2 March 2009 aJudge ruled this money should be paid within 28 days, otherwise McGovern wouldhave to serve a further four years in jail and still pay the money to HMRC.
HMRC will continue to seek recovery of these criminal profits.
In a letter of 1 April 2008 to His Honour Judge Van de Bijl, McGovern explained his non-attendance at court for sentencing saying he was unprepared to go to jail and found the thought “frightening and upsetting”.
McGovern concluded his note by saying “I was totally amazed at the scope of the ‘criminal lifestyle’ legislation and have been unable to ready myself for this and feel it would be an impossible job from a prison cell…I…assure your Honour that I will hand myself in as soon as I have completed this task.”
Four years later he was still on the run. He was finally tracked down and arrested by French authorities in the village of Neffiès, near Montpellier, on 28 March 2012.
In addition to his main rented home near Sandbanks, Dorset, McGovern owns a £420,000 property in Chigwell, Essex.
The photo shows McGovern arriving at Gatwick Airport on Monday April 16th, escorted by HMRC fugitive unit officers.