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Fugitive tax cheat construction boss jailed

5 November 2018 | By Neil Gerrard

A construction boss who was one of the UK’s most-wanted tax fugitives has finally been jailed for a £5m fraud after 12 years on the run.

Thomas O’Connor, 52, was convicted of cheating the public revenue through a large-scale subcontractor fraud between September 2002 and December 200.

He and two fellow construction firm directors produced bogus invoices to make false returns through the Construction Industry Scheme.

O’Connor was convicted after a six-week trial and was bailed following conviction. But he failed to attend sentencing and a warrant for his arrest was issued in December 2006.

He was tracked down in Ireland in June 2011 and arrested by Irish police. He appealed his case through the Irish court system and ultimately to the European Court of Justice but his case was dismissed.

He has now been returned to the UK to begin a four-and-a-half-year jail term.

Gary Forbes, assistant director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “O’Connor resorted to a series of desperate legal claims in a bid to cheat justice but he’s finally where he belongs.

“He was behind a systematic attack on the public purse. He and his criminal partners stole the equivalent of the starting salary of 216 police officers. The stolen money paid for an off-the-books workforce and funded lifestyles they couldn’t legitimately afford.

“We will relentlessly pursue fugitives who think they can dodge UK justice. Our message to others like O’Connor is very simple. We will keep pursuing you, no matter how long it takes.”

HMRC secured a confiscation order against O’Connor in 2007 to make him repay the stolen money. He was originally ordered to repay £4.2 million, but this has risen to £7.9 million with interest.

If he does not pay the order, he will spend another five years in prison and still owe the money.

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