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Fugitive Scots fraudster who fled trial hunted in Africa

Gareth Johnson and his father made millions from VAT fraud before fleeing to Kenya.

Family fraudsters: Gareth (left) and Geoffrey Johnson.
Family fraudsters: Gareth (left) and Geoffrey Johnson. HMRC/PA

A fugitive fraudster who fled the UK to avoid prison is being hunted in Africa.

Gareth Johnson and his father Geoffrey, from Forfar, Angus, made millions from a complex VAT fraud scheme and escaped to Kenya before they could be put on trial.

They were each sentenced to more than a decade in prison in their absence and ordered to pay back £109m.

Geoffrey Johnson managed to evade the authorities until July, when the 73-year-old was caught trying to travel to Dubai with a fake British passport.

He has since been deported back to the UK and jailed for more than 24 years.

Gareth Johnson remains at large, however, and HMRC believes he may be living in East Africa.

It has offered a potential reward to anyone with information about Johnson.

'Gareth Johnson should be in jail for 26 years. He should pay back a lot of money. [...] Do you know where he is?'
HMRC wanted ad

The 59-year-old was the principal controller of Tectonics Holdings and Coast Logistics, companies used to launder money through UK and offshore accounts.

He previously rented an apartment in Muthaiga, an upmarket suburb of the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

HMRC has posted ads in several local newspapers appealing for information about Johnson, who now faces a 26-year sentence for his crimes.

Geoffrey Johnson: Caught flying with fake passport.
Geoffrey Johnson: Caught flying with fake passport. HMRC

Gareth and Geoffrey Johnson were an integral part of an 18-man gang based in Scotland, England and Spain, which set up a businesses claiming to import and sell mobile phones.

An investigation by the HMRC discovered they were actually using a series of complex transactions to launder stolen money through international bank accounts.

The Johnsons each had 14 years added to their sentences when they failed to pay back the £109m they owed.

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