Nissan chief found guilty of Britain's biggest tax fraud

THE MULTI-millionaire former managing director of Nissan UK was convicted yesterday in Britain's biggest fraud trial. Michael Hunt, 59, was found guilty of siphoning off pounds 149.2m of undeclared profits from Nissan UK over nine years and cheating the Inland Revenue out of pounds 56.3m in tax and pounds 36m in interest.

After 15 hours of deliberation the jury of five men and seven women at Southwark Crown Court returned a 10-2 majority verdict convicting Hunt on one count of conspiring to cheat the Inland Revenue between December 1982 and December 1991.

He was cleared of another conspiracy charge and one charge of submitting false accounts. The remaining charge of false accounting was left on file. Hunt was granted conditional bail before appearing on Wednesday for sentencing. As the verdict was announced, Hunt, of Hove, East Sussex, looked stunned and his wife, Shirley, held her head in her hands. They refused to comment before leaving the court with their son and daughter.

The three-month trial, which cost pounds 2.2m, was prompted by the biggest investigation into corporate fraud ever conducted by the Inland Revenue. Peter Rook QC, prosecuting, said Hunt had personally made pounds 30m in the scandal and asked Mr Justice Gatehouse to issue an order confiscating his assets before sentencing. Hunt is thought to have substantial investments in the UK and overseas, including a golf course and a villa in the Spanish resort of Marbella.

The judge said such an order would delay sentencing by weeks and the Inland Revenue could recoup its losses through civil means at a later date. He ordered an immediate freeze of Hunt's business and personal assets.

The prosecution asked for Hunt to be remanded in custody until sentencing but the judge said that during the course of the trial there had been ample time for Hunt to abscond, and on this issue 'he seems to be in my view a reasonable and honourable man, unlikely to jump bail'.

On Wednesday he will be sentenced with Frank Shannon of Brighton, East Sussex, who admitted cheating the Inland Revenue earlier in the trial.

The company's former chief, Octav Botnar, 79, was also named in the charges against Hunt, but he left Britain for Switzerland.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory