Nissan chief jailed for biggest tax swindle: Former managing director is sentenced to eight years for helping to milk his company of pounds 139m and cheat Inland Revenue out of 55m pounds

THE former managing director of Nissan UK was jailed for eight years yesterday for his part in Britain's biggest tax swindle.

Michael Hunt, a multi-millionaire who helped milk his company of nearly pounds 140m and cheat the Inland Revenue of just over pounds 55m, appeared taken aback by the sentence at Southwark Crown Court in south London. His wife Shirley and daughter Wanda burst into tears. His son Chester held his head in his hands.

Mr Justice Gatehouse told Hunt, 59, found guilty last Saturday of a nine-year corporation tax conspiracy, that 'on any view' his offence was in a 'category entirely of its own'.

'You realise that this is an offence which is so serious that only a custodial sentence is appropriate. An immediate custodial sentence which is bound to be a long one.'

Hunt, of Hove, East Sussex, was the second-in-command at the former importers and distributors of Britain's best-selling foreign-made car.

The judge banned him from serving as a director or liquidator of any company under the Directors' Disqualification Act 1986, part of the penalty for his involvement in removing pounds 139m from Nissan UK. In addition, he must pay the entire cost of the two- month trial and other prosecution expenses totalling pounds 513,512.

'The Revenue stated at the outset of this case that this was the largest fraud they had ever investigated and prosecuted, and even on the count that you have been convicted it must still be the largest fraud ever investigated and prosecuted,' the judge said.

Also jailed was Frank Shannon, 60, the former financial director and company secretary of Nissan UK, based in Worthing, West Sussex.

Imposing a three-year prison sentence, a 10-year director's disqualification and pounds 131,410 costs order, the judge said he was giving him credit for his guilty plea and the co-operation he gave the tax authorities.

He told Shannon, from Brighton - who earlier admitted one charge of cheating the taxman between November 1985 and October 1986 - that his crime was less serious than Hunt's. During his involvement, said the judge, a total of pounds 17m was swindled from the taxman.

During the trial - estimated to have cost pounds 2.2m - Peter Rook, for the prosecution, said Hunt had been part of a team of 'sophisticated fraudsters'. He said they included Octav Botnar, Nissan UK's former chairman and the 'prime mover' in the swindle, two Swiss bankers and other businessmen. Botnar, 80, who suffers from arterial disease and is convalescing in Switzerland after surgery for reported stomach cancer, is thought to be too unwell to answer an arrest warrant and stand trial in Britain.

The prosecution said the fraud started in 1976 and lasted 16 years. Bogus invoices and 'sham' shipping agents in the Netherlands and Norway were used to inflate the costs of shipping Nissan vehicles from Japan to Britain by as much as 50 per cent, to conceal an extra profit averaging pounds 115 on each car and van.

The money was laundered through a Bermudan company and secret Swiss bank accounts. The cash then disappeared into a black hole - the term used by tax investigators who have failed to trace a single penny.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Sport
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
i100
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
News
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam