Tycoons' `bribes to buy tax inspector'

 

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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 arrogant and corrupt senior tax inspector took bribes on a "breathtaking" scale, including luxury holidays abroad for both his family and mistress, an Old Bailey court heard yesterday.

Michael Allcock, 47, accepted the services of a prostitute, free Concorde tickets, trips to the south of France and America and thousands in cash as rewards for favouring "extremely wealthy" businessmen, John Black, prosecuting, alleged.

Allcock, the former head of the Inland Revenue's special investigation office, from Colchester, Essex, has denied 13 charges of corruption between June 1987 to October 1992.

In the dock with him are two men he was allegedly investigating, Hisham Alwan and David Shamoon, who have denied giving him bribes.

Allcock headed a specialised unit focusing on "individuals of extreme wealth", said Mr Black. They included five men, who "bought Michael Allcock in his capacity as a senior public servant." He added: "In exchange, he enabled them to avoid investigation of their tax affairs and payments of hundreds of thousands.

"His arrogance was such that in 1991 and 1992 he went on holidays with his family - the accommodation and general expenses paid by way of bribes."

In the same years, Allcock "also went on holiday with his mistress," said Mr Black. Allcock was first introduced to the young woman, named as Michelle Corrigan, while she was working as a prostitute.

At the time Allcock was investigating Alwan, an Iraqi oil consultant based in London, the court was told.

Allcock offered Alwan a settlement in 1986, under which the consultant agreed to pay pounds 120,000 back tax. "Allcock then ensured Alwan did not have to pay any of that money simply by not telling the tax collector that the money was due," said Mr Black. "He protected Alwan from any further tax investigation right up to the time of his suspension in 1992.

"In 1989 Alwan introduced Allcock to a young woman, Michelle Corrigan, who was at the time a prostitute. Alwan paid for her to spend the night with Allcock.

"After a time she became his mistress. On eight occasions in 1991 and 1992, Alwan paid for Allcock and her to stay at a hotel," Mr Black said.

In 1986, Allcock's investigations focused on a man whose wealth he likened to a billionaire. The man cannot be named for legal reasons.

Mr X had offered pounds 250,000 as a tax settlement but Allcock wanted more than double that, the court heard.

Suddenly the businessman changed his accountants and Allcock agreed to meet him personally in the south of France. "On the first day he agreed to settle the case for the lower figure - the offer he had rejected for nearly a year."

Mr X arranged for Allcock to stay at a "luxurious, opulent and grand hotel on the seafront in Nice, one of the richest and finest hotels we can imagine," Mr Black told the jury.

Photographs recovered from Allcock's home showed "he spent a great deal of time being chauffeured around and being entertained by Mr X's employees."

Allcock also investigated a Lebanese businessman, Marwan Kalo, who was central in the development of bottled mineral water, including Highland Spring, the court heard.

The investigation disclosed "possible taxable gains by Mr Kalo of pounds 800,000 for which, in Allcock's view, Mr Kalo had no satisfactory explanation".

But in 1989, Allcock settled suddenly "in very favourable terms to Mr Kalo. He requested a meeting in Nice with the businessman - spending three days there at Mr Kalo's expense".

The case continues.

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