Nissan chief given the chance to appeal

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MICHAEL HUNT, a former Nissan UK managing director, was yesterday given the chance to appeal to the House of Lords against his conviction of involvement in a pounds 55m corporation tax fraud.

The Court of Appeal, which rejected Hunt's initial challenge in May, certified that the case raised a point of law of public importance, enabling his lawyers to petition the Law Lords for leave to appeal.

Hunt, 60, of Hove, East Sussex, was jailed for eight years at Southwark Crown Court last July for conspiring to cheat the Inland Revenue between 1982 and 1991.

The plot, said to have been masterminded by Octav Botnar, the UK company chairman, involved the use of bogus invoices and a sham shipping agent to inflate freight charges and conceal an extra profit of pounds 115 on each Nissan car or van imported from Japan.

The money was laundered through Swiss bank accounts. Mr Botnar was abroad at the time of the trial and has not returned to the UK.

Hunt's lawyers argue that there is no such offence as 'cheating the Revenue' in common law. The Law Lords will also be asked to consider whether it was right to reveal to the jury that his co-defendant, the company's former financial director and secretary Frank Shannon, had pleaded guilty.