Businessman in 34m VAT fraud ordered to pay back just 1m after blowing the rest on lavish champagne lifestyle

Businessman in 34m VAT fraud ordered to pay back just 1m after blowing the rest on lavish champagne lifestyleThomas Scragg, 56, has been jailed for 17 years

He has been convicted of leading one of the biggest scams in British fraud history

The career criminal spent 14 million living the high-life

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UPDATED:

15:06 GMT, 5 December 2012

Champagne lifestyle: Thomas Scragg has been told to pay back just 980,000 after conning UK tax officials out of 34m

Champagne lifestyle: Thomas Scragg has been told to pay back just 980,000 after conning UK tax officials out of 34m

A businessman who masterminded a 34million VAT scam has been ordered to pay back just 980,000 after a court heard he had blown the rest on a lavish champagne lifestyle.

Thomas Scragg, 56, was jailed for 17 years after being convicted of leading one of the biggest scams in British fraud history.

The career criminal spent 14 million living the high-life in top London hotels and restaurants as well as splashing out on luxury cars.

The conman also spent fortunes in casinos and paid thousands for sporting memorabilia – including Amir Khan’s boxing gloves and Diego Maradona’s shorts.

After conning the Inland Revenue over a five year period he was finally caught when his henchmen Carl and Anthony Johnson were heard boasting by neighbours: 'crime does pay.'

A police investigation then exposed his criminal empire and officers uncovered another 8 million of stolen PAYE tax in a ten-month period from April 2007 and February 2008.

Scragg, from Solihull West Midlands, was jailed for 13 years in November 2010 and was given a further four years in March 2011 – making it the second-longest sentence ever received in the UK for a white-collar crime.

But reporting restrictions were only lifted in July this year after the convictions of gangster brothers Carl, 49, and Anthony, 51, for money laundering.

Today a Proceeds of Crime hearing heard Rolex-wearing Scragg had just 982,247 left in assets.

He has now been given just six months to pay up or face a further three years in jail.

David Farrer QC, prosecuting, said Scragg’s ill-gotten gains had been 'hugely reduced' by the lifestyle he had pursued due to his 'enormous expenditure'.

The crown are already in possession of Scragg’s property worth just over 730,000 and is now looking to recoup cash gifts made during the fraud – totalling 252,566.

Detective Chief Inspector Shaun
Edwards from West Midlands Police, said at the time of the convictions:
'This was fraud and money laundering on a massive scale; it deprived the
public purse of millions of pounds and Scragg’s audacity is shown by
the fact he continued the fraud in various guises even after he knew he
was being investigated.

'A number of my officers have devoted
the last five-and-a-half years to bringing these men to justice and I’m
pleased that we can now tell the world about the extent of their crimes
for the first time.

Henchman: Carl Johnson (right) and Thomas Scragg (left)

Henchman: Carl Johnson (right) and Thomas Scragg (left), pictured at Scraggs wedding. Scragg used his business 'Moya Payroll' which managed staff wages of construction industry companies to steal over 26m in tax over a five year period between 2002 and 2007

Thomas Scragg's home in Solihull, West Midlands with luxury cars on the drive

Thomas Scragg's home in Solihull, West Midlands with luxury cars on the drive

'Carl
and Anthony Johnson flaunted their wealth for the local Wolverhampton
community to see – which is what ultimately led to their downfall.

'It
was the law-abiding citizens of the city who came to us demanding
answers about how the Johnsons were increasing their wealth.

'They were once heard to joke ‘crime does pay’, they now have plenty of time behind bars to reconsider this opinion.'

Scragg enlisted the Johnson brothers for protection after surviving a kidnap attempt.

Scragg, from Solihull West Midlands, was jailed for 13 years in November 2010 and was given a further four years in March 2011

Scragg, from Solihull West Midlands, was jailed for 13 years in November 2010 and was given a further four years in March 2011. Reporting restrictions have just been lifted

They were paid 2.4 million by Scragg for their protection services and lived extravagant lifestyles as a result.

The notorious brothers kitted out their homes in Wolverhampton with state-of-the art security equipment.

Carl had bulletproof glass put in his home, while Anthony rebuilt his house – installing a cinema room, stables and dog kennels.

They
also drove around in expensive cars including a Lamborghini Murcielago,
Bentley Continental, Porsche Cayenne and Ferrari Spider.

In July this year they were jailed for two years and nine months, after being found guilty of money laundering.

The six other men involved in Scragg’s scams were all jailed for between two and a half and six years.

They
were David Wilson-Gill, 40, of Ormskirk, Lancashire, found guilty of
conspiracy to cheat HMRC and sentenced to four years in prison.

Henchman Carl Johnson (right) andThomas Scragg (left)enjoyed a 'champagne lifestyle' with the ill gotten gains

Henchman Carl Johnson (right) andThomas Scragg (left) enjoyed a 'champagne lifestyle' with the ill gotten gains

Andrew Savin, 47, of Yardley, Birmingham, found guilty of conspiracy to cheat HMRC and sentenced to five years in prison.

Alfred Namutulo, 59, of Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, found guilty of conspiracy to
cheat HMRC and sentenced to six years in prison.

George White, 64, of Rashwood, Droitwich, found guilty of money laundering and sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison.

Bruce Hartle, 54, of Great Barr, Birmingham, found guilty of money laundering and sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison.

Steven Oakley, 56, of Little Wratting, Haverhill, Suffolk, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to cheat HMRC and was given a suspended sentence.