Tax chief `arranged night with prostitute'

 

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The Independent Online

David Shamoon was cleared of the sole charge against him, that of bribing a public official, in December 1996 when the trial judge ordered his aquittal.

An Inland Revenue official told an Old Bailey court yesterday that his boss had arranged for him to have a night out with a prostitute. He had slept with her but they had not had intercourse, he said.

Christopher Furze was giving evidence in the trial of his former colleague Michael Allcock, the tax inspector accused of accepting bribes worth more than pounds 150,000.

Both worked at the Inland Revenue's Special Office, in an elite squad charged with reclaiming tax from wealthy foreign businessmen.

Mr Furze, who is married, said Allcock had organised a blind date for him in late 1989. Mr John Black, for the prosecution, asked him if he had any prior knowledge of what the night out was going to entail.

Mr Furze, now based in Witham, Essex, replied: "Not really, he just said, `Leave it to me.'" A partner was found for Mr Furze by Michelle Corrigan, a call girl and Allcock's lover.

He and Allcock had gone to a hotel in north London where they met Ms Corrigan. "We later met a friend of Michelle Corrigan's called Karen I believe, and we had an evening out." They returned to the hotel and he spent a night with "Karen".

Asked if he handed over any money, he replied: "The following morning she inferred that some payment was due and I said I had no idea about payments and referred her to Michael Allcock."

Mr Anthony Arlidge, for the defence, asked Mr Furze, "Did you have sexual intercourse with Karen?" to which he replied, "No." He agreed that they had been in the same bed.

Earlier he had told the jury how he had lied under instruction from Allcock to mislead senior Inland Revenue managers.

He explained how he had been seconded to work with Allcock on the case of Amarwen Kalo, a multi-millionaire Lebanese, who once invested pounds 1.5m in the Highland Spring mineral water business. The court has already heard that in July last year all charges against Mr Kalo were dropped.

In February 1989 two tax inspectors held a meeting in the Knightsbridge office of Mr Kalo's accountants. At that meeting he claimed it was agreed that the businessman should pay pounds 50,000 in settlement for his outstanding tax bill. But according Mr Furze, Allcock instructed him to leave out any mention of the proposed settlement from the case notes.

He further alleged that Allcock told him to lie in a letter to Inland Revenue superiors by claiming that a settlement could only be agreed on neutral territory. Allcock had suggested a meeting in the south of France though the matter had been settled in London.

Mr Furze said they stayed at the exclusive Negresco Hotel and on their second night on the Riviera were each given gambling chips by Mr Kalo which they spent at the Monte Carlo casino. Mr Furze won pounds 200 but Mr Allcock lost. Later Mr Furze and his wife accepted an offer to stay in Mr Kalo's holiday villa in Majorca.

Allcock denies bribery and corruption. Also charged with him are Hisham Alwan, an oil dealer from Knightsbridge, and David Shamoon, a property developer from west Kensington, who deny all charges.

The trial continues.

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