Nissan UK wins battle against liquidation

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NISSAN UK, the former car importer which was at the centre of Britain's biggest tax fraud, yesterday won its High Court battle with the Inland Revenue to stop liquidators moving into the company, writes Michael Harrison.

Following a Revenue application to have NUK wound up, provisional liquidators from Price Waterhouse were appointed to the company, run by Octav Botnar, three weeks ago.

But yesterday the provisional liquidators were removed following a hearing before Mr Justice Evans- Lombe of NUK's challenge to the winding-up petition. The Revenue is understood to be satisfied that safeguards are now in place which render the presence of the liquidators unnecessary.

The Revenue is seeking repayment of up to pounds 295m from NUK, which has reported net assets of about pounds 100m. Earlier this year two former NUK executives were jailed for their part in the tax fraud - estimated to have cost the public purse pounds 87m.

NUK is appealing against the tax assessment and also intends to claim compensation from the Revenue for its highly publicised raid on the company's headquarters in Worthing, Sussex, in 1991 which led to the subsequent convictions.

Afterwards an NUK spokesman said: 'The Revenue's objective in winding up the company was nothing less than an attempt to deprive NUK of its right to defend itself and its ability to pursue its legitimate claims.'

Michael Hunt, NUK's managing director, who was jailed for eight years for his part in the tax fraud, is due to appeal against his conviction in the next six weeks. Mr Botnar has been living in Switzerland since an arrest warrant was issued in January last year.