UK Taxman Goes Looking For Assets of Wine Fraudster Who Skipped Bail and Fled to Italy During Trial
10:47 GMT 13.10.2021 (Updated: 14:34 GMT 13.10.2021)
© Photo : HMRCLivio Mazzarello
© Photo : HMRC
In 2017, Livio Mazzarello and his accomplice were convicted for evading £46.5 million in tax while importing wine into Britain from Italy. Although his accomplice went to jail, Mazzarello fled abroad during the trial and is now a free man.
The British tax authorities have embarked on a mission to track down and seize the assets of an Italian fraudster who skipped bail and fled back to his homeland in the middle of his trial in London.
Livio Mazzarello, who is now 61, ran the Italian Wine Company, based in Neasden, north-west London, with Louisa Mbadugha.
The company was a registered consignee - a business approved by HM Revenue and Customs to receive goods from another EU member state but it had a duty to notify HMRC of each consignment before the wine was dispatched from the warehouse to retailers.
Dodgy Paperwork Used To Evade VAT
But the pair used fake paperwork and re-used import documents to evade £46.5 million in Value Added Tax (VAT).
Mazzarello, who had been given bail, absconded during the trial and was sentenced in absentia to 14 years in jail on 30 June 2017.
© Photo : HMRCThe Italian Wine Company in Neasden, north west London
The Italian Wine Company in Neasden, north west London
© Photo : HMRC
A European Arrest Warrant was issued and Mazzarello was traced to Italy where he was arrested and taken back into custody.
But instead of being deported back to Britain to serve his sentence, an Italian judge ruled he should serve his sentence in Italy.
Sputnik has learned that, crucially, the sentence was “revised to conform with Italian law” which means that it was shortened and Mazzarello is now out of prison.
Mazzarello and Mbadugha defrauded the HMRC of £46.5 million but the chances of recouping that money are remote.
In April 2013, HMRC officers seized 70,000 litres of wine and £350,000 in cash, hidden in a concealed floor safe and above ceiling tiles at the company’s Neasden warehouse.
The Hunt Is On For Mazzarello's Millions
A confiscation hearing, scheduled to last for two weeks, is due to start at the Old Bailey in London next month.
At a recent hearing at the Old Bailey Judge Philip Katz, who sentenced the pair, was told it was hoped Mazzarello was give evidence remotely in front of an Italian judge but it was pointed out that he could not be compelled to do so.
The hearing also heard that a financial investigator working for the HMRC had found property assets worth £2.7 million in a US-based company that Mazzarello owned. The assets were homes in Italy which were rented out.
After their conviction HMRC’s Simon York said: “The money they stole should have gone to fund vital public services, not straight into their pockets. They believed they could continue without fearing their criminal activities would be detected. They were wrong and we are working to reclaim any money they made from their crimes.”
It is estimated around £12.3 billion a year in VAT was evaded in the year 2019/2020.