Mug-shot of Angus VAT fraudster released in African manhunt

The newspaper advert.

Authorities have released the mug-shot of an Angus fugitive who faces 26 years behind bars.

A paid advert has been posted in daily newspapers in Kenya with a potential reward offered for information about Gareth Johnson.

Johnson, 49, formerly of Forfar, has links to East Africa, especially Nairobi and Mombassa, Kenya and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.

He remains at large after going on the run with his father Geoffrey, 74, before a £20 million mobile phone fraud trial in 2014.

HMRC ordered the pair to pay back £109m or 14 years would be added to the 10 and 12 year sentences imposed in their absence.

International arrest warrants were issued but they continued to hide in plain sight in Tanzania while running a string of businesses.

The newspaper advert.

The Johnsons finally fled to neighbouring Kenya, where Geoffrey was holed up in the coastal city of Mombassa, while Gareth rented an apartment in Muthaiga, a suburb four kilometres north of Kenyan capital Nairobi.

Johnson’s father was eventually deported from Dubai in July after the authorities caught the pensioner travelling from Kenya on a false passport.

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.

The newspaper advert said: “Gareth Johnson should be in jail for 26 years. He should pay back a lot of money. HMRC think Gareth Johnson could be in East Africa, possibly Kenya or Tanzania. Do you know where he is?”

Assets from the family’s criminality have since been sold off, including expensive sports cars and a luxury home in Forfar that has since been turned into a hotel.

Gareth Johnson was the principal controller behind Tectonics Holdings which played an integral role in the fraud as the money laundering arm of the operation through personal UK and offshore accounts.

He also had control of Coast Logistics which was another company used in the carousel fraud, which stretched across Andorra, Dubai, Hong Kong, USA, Switzerland, Portugal and the UK.

© Supplied
Geoffrey Johnson was one of Britain’s most wanted tax fraud fugitives.

The investigation by HMRC led to four criminal trials between 2012 and 2014.

The 18 gang members from Cheshire, East Sussex, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, North Wales, Staffordshire, Scotland and Spain, were given jail sentences totalling 135 years.